Purpose – This research aims to study how buyers' budget constraints influence buyers' perceptions of discounts presented in a dollars‐off versus percentage‐off format. A comparison of perceptions of discount format under budget constraints is missing from the past literature. The current research aims to fill this gap. Design/methodology/approach – The research is based on two experiments. In the first experiment, a study by Kahneman and Tversky is replicated and extended by including budget constraints. In the second experiment participants are given either a high or a low budget and then asked to compare objectively equivalent discounts that are presented in either dollars‐off or percent‐off terms. Participants' willingness to buy is recorded and used to gauge the efficacy of the discount formats under budget constraints. Findings – The research extends previous findings derived from the psychophysics of pricing. It demonstrates that, although it is believed that the attractiveness of an absolute discount is inversely proportional to the objective price, such evaluations are also influenced by the presence of budget information. Specifically, consumer budget interacts with discount formats such that the $‐off versus percent‐off discounts may not be appropriate for expensive or inexpensive products respectively, as shown in past research. Instead, the value of the discount in proportion to the available budget may play a significant role in deal evaluation. Therefore it is an important issue retailers should consider when deciding what discount presentation format to use. Originality/value – Although past research views price as a constraint, the findings indicate that price in itself may not be a constraint unless viewed within the context of a budget. Consumers implicitly make this comparison, but past research has not specifically tested for the effects of budgets and, instead, has relied on income as a proxy for a consumer's spending power. The results provide evidence that using income instead of budget may be an oversimplification.
Journal of Product & Brand Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 2, 2010
Keywords: Budgets; Discounts; Cash discounts
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