Charm Pricing — why I don’t recommend it

George Kao
Jan 7 · 2 min read
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

I’ve noticed that many businesses — maybe yours — use a pricing tactic that is manipulative, and oftentimes they don’t even know it.


$14.95 instead of $15
$47 instead of $50
$999 instead of $1,000

Do you realize what’s going on here?

The tactic is called “charm pricing” or “psychological pricing” and you probably encounter it every time you go shopping.

Few consumers realize what’s going on:

  • It makes you think a price is smaller. For example, $947 seems like it’s “under a thousand dollars” instead of $1,000 which can allow people to think “wow, it’s a thousand dollars!”
  • The weird price can temporarily short-circuit your rational decision-making process and make you buy without considering your budget.

In short, it is manipulation.

Is that the way we want to start the relationship with a customer? By tricking them, trying to prevent their mind from considering the real price of our offerings?

Once I realized this, I could no longer do it in good conscience. (And having a clean conscience is vital for running a successful authentic business!)

As a result, my offerings have round prices:

  • $75 instead of $74.95 or $77
  • $100 instead of $97 or $99
  • $150 instead of $147 or $149

I know that I’m probably giving up on some sales by doing this. But having a cleaner conscience and more honest relationship with my customers is so important to me. It feels better to the heart.

It’s more empowering to build a business with integrity, knowing that I’m allowing customers to make a thoughtful decision, not needing to manipulate them.

We shouldn’t need to use any psychological tricks to make enough money. We should provide products that our audiences want, at prices that are clear but profitable.

Interestingly, our clear pricing might even stand out, and allow others to trust us more quickly, since everyone else seems to be trying to trick them.

I encourage you to revisit your pricing today and see how you might modify it to feel cleaner to you, and clearer to your clients.

 by the author.

George Kao

Written by

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity"

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