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The upside down: Presenting a price in a low location influences how consumers evaluate it

Michael J. Barone, PhD K.S. Coulter X. Li
Journal of Retailing. March 30, 2020

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Can changing the vertical location of a price (e.g., presenting it above or below a product image in an advertisement or retail display) influence consumer response? Drawing from conceptual metaphor theory, we propose that a price’s vertical location can activate metaphors that relate vertical locations to magnitudinal concepts. These “down = less” and “up = more” metaphors can subsequently influence evaluations of a target price as being monetarily low or high in magnitude. Consistent with this premise, several lab and field investigations demonstrate that prices provided in low (vs. high) locations lead to lower price perceptions, more favorable purchase intentions, and higher in-store sales. Two final studies directly implicate the role of “down = less” and “up = more” metaphors by demonstrating that such price location effects a) arise only among individuals who associate down with less and up with more and b) are attenuated when inconsistent spatial-magnitude associations (i.e., those relating down with more and up with less) are primed. The theoretical and managerial implications of these findings are discussed as are future research direction