27 April 2014 | 50 Comments
Something that continues to surprise me when I look at Kickstarter projects is that so few project fully implement the power of the number 9. I see games priced at $50, and I wonder why the project creator didn’t price them at $49. You save backers $1 and you offer a psychologically much more appealing price, which could significantly increase the appeal of your project to potential backers.
So let’s talk about 9s today.
You may not realize it, but over the course of your life, your brain has slowly been conditioned to associate any price ending with the number 9 to be a good deal. You may consciously know that it’s not actually good deal, but it doesn’t matter–your brain gets all excited when it sees the number 9.
This isn’t my opinion–there is hard data to back up this claim. Below I’m going to cite a few studies mentioned in this article.
More Is Better
The first study is actually a series of studies compiled and averaged by behavioral psychologist William Poundstone. They revealed that using a price point ending in the number 9 increases sales (number of units sold) by 24%.
Let’s put that in Kickstarter terms: You have a board game on Kickstarter. If you price it at $50, you might get 1000 backers at that level for a total revenue before fees of $50,000. OR you can price it at $49 and get 1240 backers for a total revenue of $60,760, meaning that you not only over $10,000 more than the higher price point, but you also probably just unlocked a stretch goal that gives something cool to all backers.
$39 < $34?
The second study by MIT and the University of Chicago experimented to see if an identical item of clothing sold better at three listed prices: $34, $39, and $44. Guess which price sold the most units?
That’s right: $39. Which, as you might notice, is $5 higher than the lowest price of $34. Although that means you would charge backers a higher price (if you’re deciding between the two), that extra $5 can go a long way when you have to send out replacement parts or games sent to the wrong address. Having a little bit of buffer can help in the long run.
The Killer Combo
Now, there is one pricing tactic that beats the power of 9: comparing the sale price (any price) to the original price. For example, if I tell you that original price of a baseball bat is $28, but I want to sell it to you for $20, you will respond better than if I try to sell you the baseball bat for $19 without any context.
However, if you combine the two methods, you have the most compelling pricing method of them all. I’ll put it in Kickstarter terms:
($29) GAME – 1 copy of the game. MSRP: $40.
Yield this newfound power carefully. That is, don’t price every reward with a 9 at the end. Rather, use the power of 9 to steer backers towards the critical levels–the ones that might make or break your project. This ties in closely with my KS Lesson on the Premium Option. For example, look at Tuscany:
($45) TUSCANY – 1 copy of Tuscany with all stretch goals. MSRP: $70.
($59) PRIMA – 1 copy of Tuscany with all stretch goals plus 72 custom metal lira coins. (No MSRP because I won’t be selling this version in retail.)
$45 is a gateway price for Tuscany. My margins are very, very tight at that price point. The price I actually want people to choose is the $59 price, which is better for me because it gives me a little wiggle room, and it’s better for backers because they get a limited edition of the game.
I’m considering a similar pricing model for my upcoming Treasure Chest campaign:
($42) TREASURE – 1 copy of the Stonemaier Games Treasure Chest containing 195 realistic resource tokens (raw and refined versions of stone, wood, brick, gold, ore, and gems). Includes all stretch goals. MSRP: $70
($79) DOUBLE TREASURE – 2 copies of the Stonemaier Treasure Chest with all stretch goals. MSRP: $140.
I don’t usually discount prices for multiple copies of our games, but this isn’t a game–it’s a complementary product to any number of Euro games, and I know that many people are going to want multiple sets for a wealth of tokens. It’s very, very expensive to make this product (as you can tell from the MSRP, which is a bit misleading since the Treasure Chest won’t be available via traditional distribution), so the only way I can offer a discount like that is by shipping multiple units to the same backer. The more we can make, the more tokens we can put into everyone’s Treasure Chest, so it’s good for everyone if people back the $79 level instead of the $42 level.
Note: Those prices are subject to change. The Treasure Chest campaign will most likely launch in May–subscribe to our e-newsletter if you’d like to be notified about that.
Some people might think that using price tactics like these are manipulative. But…it’s the good kind of manipulative. Most of the time you’re saving people money, you’re making backers feel good about their pledge, and you’re increasing your project’s growth potential, which–when combined with stretch goals–helps everyone involved.
I highly encourage you to explore the power of 9 on your next project.