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Want to Make a Big Consumer Impression? Try Big Numbers

Consumers tend to like big numbers — and big differences.

New research supports several studies showing consumers care more about the number in a measurement than the measurement used, even when they reflect the same amount.

Consumers tend to perceive high numbers as a larger quantity, and were often more willing to pay for the greater difference,” researcher Mario Pandelaere, professor at Ghent University in Belgium, told BusinessNewsDaily.

For example, when the length of a warranty is spelled out in months (for example, 108 months versus 84 months), most consumers are willing to pay more for the longer warranty. But, when the same warranty is given in years (seven years versus nine years), the difference between the two (two years) seems smaller to consumers and they are more likely to choose the shorter warranty period.

Pandelaere said the effect of large differences may disappear as consumers use more information to make a purchase. But without more information, consumers seem to respond to differences that appear to be large.

He said small business owners should advertise accordingly.

“For a superior brand , it makes sense to engage in advertising that compares the owned brand to [a] follower brand while magnifying the existing differences by using scales that are ‘bigger,’” Pandelaere said. “In contrast, follower brands could minimize the difference by presenting info using scales with few units.”

For instance, a business might want to use inches instead of feet to show a difference between it and a competitor. The research is published in the current issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.