Consumer Awareness, Understanding and Usage of Unit Pricing
15 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2003
The debate continues over whether prescribed quantities or unit pricing offers the best method to enable consumers to make value-for-money comparisons. In theory, the 'informed' consumer should benefit from being given unit-price information to identify optimum purchases; in practice, however, it would appear that many consumers do not use the data. Although unit pricing can reduce the level of confusion caused by large product ranges and large numbers of unique size-price combinations, results of a survey of over 1000 people showed that: 31% of the sample did not understand how unit pricing was meant to help them compare products; 35% could not be bothered to look at unit prices and 28% stated that unit pricing was too difficult to use. Those least likely to look at unit prices are women, the least educated and consumers aged 18-34. The research investigated why consumers do not use unit-price information and found: some consumers do not possess the cognitive ability to process the information and feel unit pricing is too complicated to use; some products are not comparable, which makes unit prices misleading; many shops do not provide unit-price information; unit-price information was felt unnecessary when evaluating products with few or no alternative sizes or brands; unit-price comparisons take too much time; consumers use simpler strategies for getting value for money, e.g. volume discount heuristic, own brands, special offers, x% free, reward points, etc. The paper explores policy and retailer implications for unit pricing and examines recommendations for government.
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