Left Digit Management in your Pricing

price psychology Dec 05, 2016

Why the first number in your price is the most essential


This is a principle I refer to as left digit management.  And it’s one that I believe can be even more powerful than the power of 9 – a commonly used price psychology method.

In the power of 9, you should always consider using a price that ends in a 9 because it will encourage more conversions.  So instead of using £390 or $390 as a price for example you use £389 or $389.

It may only be a pound or dollar difference but the impact of the power of 9 means that more people will buy.


The power of the first digit


Apply a similar principle to the first digit, however, and the impact is even more powerful.

Say in this instance the price is £400 (or $400). Test it at £399 (or $399) and again – although it’s only a pound or a dollar difference the perception is an even greater difference than the previous example and therefore more clients are likely to convert.


Because of the way we read prices.

In 2005 Thomas and Morwitz published a related study in The Journal of Consumer Research. Penny Wise and Pound Foolish, the Left-Digit Effect in Price Cognition, showed that because we read from left to right we put the most emphasis on the first digit.

So back to the example of 390 and 389. They both start with a 3 so whilst more convert on the lower number we only have the power of 9 coming into play.  Take 400 and 399 however and suddenly the difference seems far greater.

It’s still just one dollar or one pound but suddenly we have one price starting with a 4 and one with a 3. And that seems so much lower than before.

It’s powerful stuff. Try it when you create your prices and see what happens.


Find out more about the power of left digit management in your pricing by watching the video.


You can watch the video here



If you found this valuable and would like to learn more about value pricing, I run a free live online training session every month with a topic chosen by you. Attend live and you can ask me any questions you have. Click here to register and I will send you an invitation to the next session.

Wishing you every success on your pricing journey

Mark Wickersham

Chartered Accountant, Public Speaker and Author of Amazon No.1 Best Seller “Effective Pricing for Accountants”

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