Denise Donohue, Donohue Associates My girlfriend, Marsha, called me one night, practically giddy.
“I’ve got a great idea about how you should be promoting fruit,” she said.
In need of new ideas, I urged her on. She’s a lawyer, so of course she doesn’t like her job that much, and sometimes she likes to do mine.
Like I said, I need the ideas.
“I really like it when they price oranges by the each,” she said.
“You know, three for $2 or $1 each. I know what I’m getting for the money, and I always buy more than I planned since it seems like such a bargain.”
Marsha makes six figures and shops regularly for children. She’s a target consumer, and with that income she should be price insensitive. She mostly is.
But Marsha wants to feel good, like maybe she’s snagged a bargain.
For her and most other shoppers, price tops the list of considerations. In a November 2011 survey by Supermarket News, respondents said the No. 1 improvement their primary grocery store could make was to lower prices.
News bulletin: Since grocery stores operate on razor-thin margins, they won’t be dropping prices anytime soon.
But what if the issue was perceived price? In other words, how the fruit was priced rather than the actual price.
Interestingly, I’m reading “All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending.” Author Laura Vanderkam makes the case that upping our incomes is more effective than scrimping, although scrimping is far more common.
She writes that “because we shop at the grocery store more often than other places, that’s where we think we should put this thrift into practice.”
But cutting out life’s little food pleasures barely moves the needle on our personal budgets.
As the book and every grocer knows, the reality is that shoppers — even six-figure earners like Marsha — are at least somewhat attuned to perceived bargains.
Although our goal is to not discount the produce, can we give the perception of a bargain?
Here are three suggestions for perceived bargains that could actually improve your bottom line.
Idea No. 1. Is pricing by the “each”? Marsha doesn’t know the cost of an apple. She can read signs that give the price per pound and the price per sack.
“Price per pound is ambiguous,” she said. “I just want to know when I pick them up how many I can get for the money. If I know I can get three oranges for $2, I’m just as likely to buy six because it’s such a bargain.”