3 effective ways to display product unit prices based on psychology

Merchants know that product prices are one of the most important pieces of information that customers look at when making a purchase. However, what many merchants don't realize is that displaying the price per unit of your products can have a big impact on how likely customers are to buy. In this blog post, we'll discuss three different ways to display unit prices based on psychological principles, and we'll provide tips for how you can use each method to boost your sales.

Create a visual distinction between the total price and the price per unit (1)

Have you ever noticed how commercials and infomercials often use a very muted color for the "problem" and a very vivid, bright color for the "solution"? Or how the "problem" is always shown in close-up while the "solution" is shown in a wide shot? This is because creating a strong visual contrast between ‘problem’  and ‘solution’ makes the viewer believe that the solution must make a big difference - after all, the two look and ‘feel’ very different.  The stronger the visual difference is, the stronger the viewer perceives the conceptual and numerical differences to be, a theory supported by a Journal of Consumer Psychology study by Coulter and Coulter.

This concept can be very useful when displaying the price per unit of your products. You can take advantage of this psychological pricing technique by creating a visual contrast between the larger total price of the product and the much smaller price per individual unit. By muting the total higher price and highlighting the smaller unit price using different colors, fonts, and sizes you enable shoppers to perceive a much greater numerical difference between the two.

You can also go one step further and create a visual separation between the pricing information and the buy button itself. Something as simple as adding a small thin line between the two will ensure that the customer’s attention is focused on the buy button itself rather than the entire area next to your product image.

Place the Price Per Unit below the Total Price (2)

A Journal of Business Research article shows that the actual spatial positioning of comparative prices (horizontally vs. vertically)  impacts how buyers perceive them. When comparative prices are stacked vertically consumers find it much easier to perceive the difference between the two because vertical numbers are easier to subtract.

In other words, displaying a much lower Price per Unit underneath a larger total price will make the difference between the two appear greater to your shoppers.

Easy calculations enlarge the gap between numbers (3)

The results from a set of experiments show that the ease with which you can add, subtract or divide two numbers can affect consumers’ judgments on price differences as well as brand choices. This is known as the ease of computation effect. Take for example 25 and 50 as opposed to 48 and 23. The gap between each set of numbers is 25, but it’s so much easier to perceive it with the first set of numbers as the calculation is much easier.

Taking advantage of this may not always be possible when displaying the unit prices of your products, however, you can always consider slightly increasing the total price so that the resulting pair of numbers you get when displaying the unit price is easy to compute.

For more useful information on psychological pricing, techniques check out our article here .

Turns out, by displaying the unit prices of your products in a strategic way, you can see a significant boost in revenue. By using phycological pricing techniques such as visual contrast and the ease of computation effect, you can make it easy for customers to understand how much they’re spending and drive them towards making a purchase. So why not try Price Per Unit out for free today? Check us out on the app store and see how we can help improve your sales!


  1. Coulter, K. S., & Coulter, R. A. (2005). Size Does Matter: The Effects of Magnitude Representation Congruency on Price Perceptions and Purchase Likelihood. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 15
  2. Journal of Business Research, Volume 76, July 2017, Pages 209-218, Presenting comparative price promotions vertically or horizontally: Does it matter?, Author links open overlay panel[ShanFengbRajneeshSuriaMike Chen-HoChaobUmitKocc](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0148296317300097#!)
  3. Thomas, M., & Morwitz, V. G. (2009). The ease-of-computation effect: The interplay of metacognitive experiences and naive theories in judgments of price differences. Journal of Marketing Research, 46(1), 81–91. https://doi.org/10.1509/jmkr.46.1.81