Friday, October 19, 2007


Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion”” offers a primer on the contrast principle.

“Sell the expensive item first then sell the accessories…if they buy a shirt first they may not buy the suit, but if they buy the suit first they will most certainly buy the shirt”

Patrick Williams of The Selling Sherpa advises “Start at The Top

“…when people ask your price, start at the top. Trust me, if they can’t afford it, they’ll let you know. But what if they can afford it and you don’t offer it?

Starting at the top rung of your price ladder also discourages those who would make a buying decision based solely on price, and shoppers rarely become your most profitable customers.”

Seth Godin post on “Triangulation” highlights the contrast principle brilliantly,

There are two wines for sale at dinner: $9 a bottle or $16 a bottle. Which one do you order?

Now, imagine that there are three, and the third is $34. Are you more likely to buy the $16 bottle now? Most people are.”

Restaurateurs as a group have this aversion to asking top price for their offerings, why? Perceived value is a concept that relies totally on the contrast principle. A guest perception of a restaurant is influenced by their experience at other restaurants and their price points. You do not want to be the lowest price provider period.

Put the expensive items on the top of the menu. The principle of leading with your high cost, high margin items and relegating low cost, thin margin items to the least noticeable place on the menu is valid and workable. If they buy the Château Briand , they will buy sides, dessert and a bottle of wine. If they buy hamburger, they will not order sides and have water with their meal. Highlight the Chateau Briand

Restaurateurs will be pleasantly surprised when they apply the principle of Contrast!