Unlocking the Decoy Effect to Transform Your Pricing Strategy

In today’s competitive market landscape, understanding the intricacies of consumer psychology can be a game-changer for businesses. One phenomenon that stands out for its effectiveness in influencing customer decisions is the Decoy Effect. As a leading digital marketing agency in Thailand, Primal Digital Agency explores this tool and how it can significantly enhance your pricing strategies and marketing efforts.

What is the Decoy Effect?

The Decoy Effect, a fascinating principle rooted in behavioural economics, plays a role in shaping consumer decisions. It occurs when consumers are presented with a third option, the decoy, that makes one of the original options more appealing than it would have been on its own. More than an abstract concept, the Decoy Effect is a practical strategy employed across marketing, retail, and even politics, influencing choices in surprisingly predictable ways.

A woman holding shopping bags

Why Does the Decoy Effect Work?

The power of the Decoy Effect lies in its ability to capitalise on our cognitive biases. It skews our perception of value, making us more likely to choose an option that appears more beneficial in comparison to the decoy. The principles of anchoring and contrast play significant roles here, subtly guiding consumers towards the product choice that the marketer intends to sell more of.

How Should Businesses Use the Decoy Effect?

Avoid excessive pricing options

Simplification is key. Offering too many choices can overwhelm consumers, but the strategic use of a decoy can streamline decision-making processes.

Target genuine needs

The options presented must align with real consumer needs, ensuring that choices are meaningful and the decoy adds value to the decision-making process.

Optimise price gaps

Setting the correct price gap between the decoy and the target option can effectively nudge consumers towards the latter, enhancing its perceived value.

Use decision-triggering language

The right messaging can amplify the Decoy Effect. Persuasive content highlighting the superiority of one option over the decoy can motivate consumers to make favourable decisions.

An online shopper holding a smartphone and a credit card

What is a Real World Example of the Decoy Effect?

The Decoy Effect is a fascinating principle in consumer psychology that marketers can leverage to influence customer choices and boost conversions. Here are practical examples of how the Decoy Effect can be strategically applied in marketing and pricing strategies:

Subscription Services

A streaming service offers three subscription plans: Basic at ฿150/month with ads, Standard at ฿300/month without ads, and Premium at ฿450/month with added features like offline viewing and 4K streaming.

Decoy Effect Application: The Standard plan serves as the decoy, making the Premium plan appear more valuable. By pricing the Premium plan slightly higher than the Standard, consumers perceive greater value in the Premium option for a minimal price increase, thus encouraging upgrades.

Retail Pricing

An electronics retailer sells a laptop with three variants: the base model at ฿24,000, the mid-range model at ฿30,000 (decoy), and the high-end model at ฿32,000.

Decoy Effect Application: The mid-range model is the decoy, positioned to make the high-end model seem more appealing. The small price difference between the mid-range and high-end models and significant feature upgrades nudges customers towards the higher-priced option.

Food and Beverage Menus

A coffee shop offers three sizes for their specialty drink: Small at ฿90, Medium (decoy) at ฿120, and Large at ฿125.

Decoy Effect Application: The Medium size acts as the decoy, making the Large size look like a better deal for just ฿5 more. This setup encourages customers to opt for the Large size, perceiving it as a superior value proposition.

E-commerce Bundles

An online store sells a fitness tracker for ฿4,500, a bundle of the tracker plus a heart rate monitor for ฿6,000 (decoy), and a premium bundle including the tracker, heart rate monitor, and a year-long fitness app subscription for ฿6,500.

Decoy Effect Application: The standard bundle serves as the decoy to highlight the premium bundle’s value. For an additional ฿500, customers get significantly more value, encouraging them to choose the premium bundle over the standard option.



In each scenario above, the decoy is strategically priced or positioned not to sell but to make the other options more appealing. The key to successfully implementing the Decoy Effect in marketing strategies is understanding your customers’ value perception and decision-making processes. By carefully crafting your offerings and pricing strategies, you can guide customer choices and enhance satisfaction and sales.

The Decoy Effect is a potent psychological tool in the arsenal of marketers and business strategists. By understanding and applying this effect, businesses can subtly influence consumer behaviour, guiding them towards desired outcomes. 

At Primal Digital Agency, we specialise in crafting marketing strategies that incorporate these insights, helping your business achieve its objectives with precision and creativity. Do digital marketing with us and discover how to make strategies like the Decoy Effect work for you.