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Updated 16 September 2013

'Powerful' customers evaluate prices differently

How powerful you feel may influence how you compare the price of wines or other products, according to a new study.

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How powerful you feel may influence how you compare the price of wines or other products, according to a new study.

The researchers explained that people use two main ways to evaluate if the price of a product is fair. They compare the current price with the price they've paid for the same item in the past (self-comparison) or see how the price compares with what other people are paying (other-comparison).

"The degree to which one feels powerful influences which type of price comparison threatens their sense of self-importance and, in turn, affects the perception of price unfairness," the study authors wrote.

The study found that people who felt more powerful were more likely to feel a price was unfair when it appeared that they were paying more than others, while people who did not feel powerful were more likely to feel a price was unfair when they used self-comparison.

Different power statuses

The researchers also found that people who felt powerful were more likely to get angry about perceived price unfairness and were more likely to complain about it, according to the study published online recently in the Journal of Consumer Research.

On the other hand, people who did not feel powerful were more likely to feel sad about perceived price unfairness and to use tactics to avoid thinking about the issue, the authors pointed out in a journal news release.

"Our findings suggest important ways that marketing professionals can engage customers of different power statuses," wrote Liyin Jin and Yanqun He of Fudan University in China, and Ying Zhang of the University of Texas, Austin.

"For example, when marketing to high-power customers, one can better elicit preference by highlighting the special treatment that they are receiving in relation to other customers. Conversely, when the target customers are relatively low in power, loyalty may be better cultivated by highlighting the consistency in service or the level of commitment to these customers," the authors concluded.

More information

USA.gov offers tips for being a savvy consumer.

 
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