What you think you get is what you pay for?

As an anti-apothegm to “You get what you pay for” comes this story.

A $90 wine was provided marked with its real price and again marked $10, while another was presented at its real price of $5 and also marked $45.

The testers’ brains showed more pleasure at the higher price than the lower one, even for the same wine…

In other words, changes in the price of the wine changed the actual pleasure experienced by the drinkers, the researchers reported.

“Our results suggest that the brain might compute experienced pleasantness in a much more sophisticated manner that involves integrating the actual sensory properties of the substance being consumed with the expectations about how good it should be,” they reported.

This tracks with an experience that my brother had several years ago. My brother is an accomplished Christian music singer/songwriter. Many years ago, he wrote, performed and produced a solo CD in his basement studio. Primarily he sold these CDs when he did concerts, but he also decided to try to market them through local Christian book stores.

When he approached the manager of the first book store, they agreed to carry his CD and asked him what price he wanted to put on it. He didn’t want to price it too high because his only reason for selling it was to support his music ministry, not to make a profit. With that in mind he decided on a very low price. The manager balked and suggested a higher price. My brother protested that, since he is a total unknown, he feared no one would buy it if it was priced too high. Au Contraire, said the manager…if it is priced too low, people will assume that it is crap and won’t buy it. If you price it more in line with what people pay for big name artists, not only will it sell better, but people will like it more, because they won’t go into it expecting an inferior product.

Well, I don’t know how it would have done had he priced it lower, but I do know that he had great success selling the CD in that way.


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