How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Preferred Number Pricing
Many people like some number more than others. If these numbers are included in prices somehow, such as the final digit, they
In order of popularity globally, preferred numbers are:
Note that five and nine are less popular digits than seven and three, so perhaps these should be used less. For example you could use '87' rather than 99.
A company prices items with a '97' or even '77' suffix (eg. '$5.97') to take make the price more attractive.
A store offers three items together at a special discount.
When people see a price with their preferred numbers in (or just numbers they like) they are more likely to find them pleasurable and look at them longer. They are also less likely to dislike them.
The irregular appearance of digits is known as 'Benford's Law', after the GE physicist who found they did not appear randomly in a wide range of situations.
This list comes from Bellos (2014), who surveyed 30,025 people worldwide. Notably many of the preferred numbers are single digits, though every number between one and a hundred was represented, indicating both popularity of a few numbers and randomness.
Reasoning for number popularity includes:
Just which number is preferred will vary not only by people but also by social group and even country where a number may have a particular significance. In this way, numbers can be seen as 'lucky'. Some numbers may also be seen as unlucky. In Christian countries, thirteen is considered as unlucky as the thirteenth apostle was Judas (who betrayed Jesus). Thirteen hence appears in 'bad' situations, such as there being 13 witches in a coven and Friday 13th being seen as unlucky. This is not universal, however, for example thirteen is considered lucky in Italy.
The popularity of seven and three can be seen with a party trick. When you have a room full of people, ask them to think of any two-digit number between ten and fifty. A remarkable number are likely to think of 37, so when you announce this, they will be amazed.
On November 14, 1995, 133 lottery tickets in the UK shared the £16M pound jackpot (so each winner only got Â£120,000). The winning numbers were 7, 17, 23, 32, 38, 42 and 48. This unusually large sharing pool can be explained when you note how many preferred digits there are here!
Bellos, A. (2014). Alex Through the Looking Glass (How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life), London: Bloomsbury
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