How to spend $500 more and feel
like you pulled a fast one
Here’s why I think so. Imagine the ad without the 75-inch TV. Five hundred bucks for going from a 55-inch to a 65-inch TV may seem like a lot. But with the 75-inch TV, you have a point of comparison: You can add ten inches to the diagonal measure of smallest screen for $500, which works out to $50 per inch, or you can add ten inches to the diagonal measure of the mid-size screen for $1370, which works out to a whopping $137 per inch. Suddenly, five hundred bucks for the 65-inch TV looks like a bargain. And who’s to say? Maybe it is. Either way, you can buy the mid-size screen and feel like you pulled a fast one.
I’m betting that the 75-inch option, besides selling a few 75-inch TVs, will motivate many people to trade up from the 55-inch to the 65-inch model. At least, that’s what one test of this scenario showed. You can read about it in Dan Ariely’s wonderful book Predictably Irrational.
I suspect the folks at Costco knew what they were doing. Before you accuse them of unfair manipulation, imagine again that they omitted the 75-inch option, resulting in more purchases of the 55-inch model. I bet you wouldn’t accuse them of unfairly manipulating people into spending less.
By providing a point of comparison, Costco dramatizes the value of trading up to the mid-size screen. It does not take control of your mind or actions. You remain in charge of your wallet and how you use it.