The Decoy Effect - Can You Afford to Ignore It?


The pricing page is primarily one of the most important pages displayed on your whole website.

On the pricing page, the user chooses whether they want to purchase your product. The page will structure their whole perception of your product. The pricing page is mainly where the most important action takes place.

Helping users pick the correct option, will be dependant on how you can push them in the right direction.

Without being too threatening, it is possible via psychological savvy to force people to take action on the pricing choice you prefer.

This is known as the decoy effect.

Effectively the pricing page is a mind game. You must implement the most influential shaping strategies that you can gather. Entice effect pricing is a simple strategy that can ultimately change how you operate your online business.


What is the decoy effect?


The Simple Explanation


Initially, I will explain the decoy effect in relation to product pricing as simple as possible:

When presented with a third choice, a tactfully priced decoy, customers will be very likely to opt for the most expensive of the other two options says Chris Baron managing director at Silver Bullet Express.

Here’s how it operates. With two potential options, users are obliged to decide. They either opt for the less costly choice with small options or the bigger choice for more money.

It’s a hard choice. They desire more outstanding, but still are unwilling to spend any more money. Therefore, they usually spend less money.

But, now implement the decoy effect. Decoy effect pricing includes adding a third option – the decoy.

The decoy is closer in price to the more expensive option, implying that the more expensive option is really better. It’s inevitably the middle option, but so biased it makes it seem stupid not to opt for the highest priced option.


The Complex Explanation


‘Cognitive Biases’ is the result of the decoy effect. A cognitive bias is the trend of the human mind to make incorrect decisions or believe misinterpretations or other delusions. From every cognitive bias, there’s a cause.  The cause of bias cognition is a consequence of:

1) the things being observed, and

2) the natural disposition of the mind.

This process has an impact on every aspect of life – Cognitive biases – but it happens without us even realising it. The decoy effect is only one issue.

The decoy effect can be also known as asymmetric dominance.

The third option is more attractive than the first option (prominent choice),  but less appropriate than the other choices (asymmetric). An asymmetric prominent option is prominent in a deliberation, then consumers will be far more likely to choose the largest (i.e., more expensive) option.


Decoy Effect Examples


Once you are aware of it, you become to realise that it is implemented in multiple situations.

The decoy effect can be manipulated to influence elections and day-to-day decisions we chose.  Even such as where we chose to eat.

Joel Huber, a professor who tested this theory, put forward to participants a really nice 5 star (far away) or a medium nice restaurant 3 stars (close by). The subject had to choose between convenience vs quality, hence the dilemma.

Once, introducing the third choice, of a 4-star restaurant that was further away than the 5 star. It caused a shocking change in the frequency of choosing the 5-star restaurant.

Huber then again added a 2-star restaurant placed between the 5 and 3 star, this changed the results yet again. People then chose the 3 star, due to their attention being turned to the issue of the 3-star restaurant’s convenience and quality weighed against the 2-star option.

You can effectively apply the decoy effect to anything!

The idea is very easy: if you place a product in a crazy way that it appears to make other prices appear extremely reasonable.

How do you use the decoy effect?

Are you hoping to employ the decoy effect on your pricing page? Here I will talk how you can do it:


1.Choose an item or plan which you would like sell more?


You are completely in control and get to decide this item.

For example, if you want to sell your iPhone A, at a set price. Your alternative iPhone B, customers can see that iPhone A has larger memory but is high in cost - £100 more.

Knowing that £900 is expensive for an iPhone. Therefore, you create iPhone 3 as your decoy which has less memory than B – at a high point above A. Which is the goal? Creating iPhone A to look reasonable.


2.Devise three choices.


Allowing three choices for the customer, with one being the decoy effect will merely not collaborate with the two options, neither will it be successful if more than three choices are given.


3.The three choices must be deliberately imbalanced.


The aim is to produce a decoy. You must remember that the decoy is not for the users to opt for the decoy. The aim is to use the decoy to push clients to pick something else. Therefore, it is acceptable to make the decoy seem ridiculous. You ideally want some imbalance.

The decoy should be irrationally priced, because it is there to create the idea that the other choices seem reasonable in contrast.


4.Place the price of the decoy close to the high-priced option.


For example, the popcorn at the cinema, why get the decoy option when you could pay 50p more for a large compared to a medium.

The cost between the high priced and the decoy choice should be insignificant compared to the price difference from the decoy and the low-priced option. The larger the difference, the bigger effect of the decoy on the customers perception.


5.Make the decoy only slightly better than the low-priced option.


Bare in mind that price is only one element of the equation. Included are benefits and features too.

Regarding the decoy outline the value so it’s just a tad better than the bottom priced item. This forces the customer to think, if I just spend a small amount more then they might as well pay that little bit extra to reap the benefits with the highest option.

Please see below the conclusion for the two points above:

  •        Create the price of the decoy close to the high-priced option.
  •        Create the value of the decoy close to the low-priced option.


6.Middle-choice tendency


Displaying these options visually is important too. It is predicted that most customers pick the middle option when given three options. As you definitely don’t want customers to pick the decoy option, therefore it must be placed not in centre.

The middle choice can be incorporated into the strategy. By tactfully putting your favored choice in the centre, you should merge factors that will assist customers to pick that option.


The decoy effect is indirect, yet very influential. When you start to comprehend how it works, to begin to observe it everywhere. It affects you in what you buy a house, restaurant, supermarket shopping as well as online shopping says Ciaran Woodcock a marketing manager at Churchill Knight & Associates Ltd

The biggest way it can affect you personally is inputting it into your business, through the simple process. By planning what you wish to sell. Deliver another two options. Get the decoy implemented and observe the sales gushing in.

It’s practically too good and easy to be true. Therefore, you should immediately start using this method.



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Tuesday, 23 July 2019
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