Publication Date

2006

Abstract

In many product categories, unit prices facilitate price comparisons across brands and package sizes; this enables consumers to identify those products that provide the greatest value. However in other product categories, unit prices may be confusing. This is because there are two types of unit pricing, measure-based and usage-based. Measure-based unit prices are what the name implies; price is expressed in cents or dollars per unit of measure (e.g. ounce). Usage-based unit prices, on the other hand, are expressed in terms of cents or dollars per use (e.g., wash load or serving). The results of this study show that in two different product categories (i.e., laundry detergent and dry breakfast cereal), measure-based unit prices reduced consumers’ ability to identify higher value products, but when a usage-based unit price was provided, their ability to identify product value was increased. When provided with both a measure-based and a usage-based unit price, respondents did not perform as well as when they were provided only a usage-based unit price, additional evidence that the measure-based unit price hindered consumers’ comparisons. Finally, the presence of two potential moderators, education about the meaning of the two measures and having to rank order the options in the choice set in terms of value before choosing, did not eliminate these effects.

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Required Publisher Statement
© Springer. Final version published as: Kwortnik, R. J., Creyer, E. H., & Ross, W. T. (2006). Usage-based versus measure-based unit pricing: Is there a better index of value? Journal of Consumer Policy, 29(1), 37-66.
doi: 10.1007/s10603-005-6054-x
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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