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A 35% discount or 50% extra for FREE? They are both the same discount level. True? Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that a “50% bonus package” sold 71% more than one with a “35% discount,” although the latter’s products is priced slightly lower. This shows, that clearly our brain is bad at mathematics.

Both male and female brains are not good at automatically determining what the best deal is, which explains why a FREE “50%” bonus seems more attractive than a “35%” discount, even when mathematically it is worse. Researchers call this “value-based negligence” – in essence, we look at the numerical value of the percentage without paying attention to the amount in which that percentage applies.

This is documented in the marketing journal titled “When More is Less”.

A customer yields a preference for a bonus pack over an economically equivalent price discount when both are expressed as percentages.

Haipeng Chen, Howard Marmorstein, Michael Tsiros, & Akshay R. Rao

Researchers , University of Minnesota

We always recommend to use the marketing method that showcases the highest percentage.

And also never forget this concept: FREE. The word “FREE” is an important motivator for consumers. The Minnesota researchers were aware of this at the time of the study, so removing the word FREE from their first offer dramatically reduced the effects that the promotion had on its subjects.

Therefore if you are doing a web design, creating a social media campaign or any type of graphic design to communicate a promotion of your brand, our recommendation is that you implement the term FREE in the ads, whenever possible. Such as the product from Cadbury’s below:

Instead of “20% bonus” or “20% extra”, use “20% extra FREE!” to maximise sales

In summary, the highest percentages that are combined with the word FREE! The products tends to sell a lot more than an equivalent discount.