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How Big Brands Are Using the Decoy Effect to Skyrocket Their Sales

Decoy Effect

Ever wondered how some of the biggest brands manage to sway consumer choices and drive their sales through the roof? Today, we’re uncovering the shocking secret behind their success: the decoy effect. This psychological trick can revolutionize your content marketing and social media strategies. Ready to learn how giants like Apple, The Economist, and Starbucks are using the decoy effect to their advantage? Let’s dive in!


What is the Decoy Effect?

The decoy effect, also known as the asymmetric dominance effect, is a cognitive bias where consumers change their preference between two options when presented with a third, less attractive option (the decoy). This decoy is designed to make one of the original options more appealing. Big brands have mastered this trick to influence consumer choices and maximize their sales.


How Big Brands Are Using the Decoy Effect


  1. Apple's Pricing Strategy Apple often uses the decoy effect with their product pricing. For instance, when offering different models of the iPhone: By introducing Model B, Apple makes Model C seem like a better value despite the higher price, steering consumers toward the premium option.

  • iPhone Model A: $699

  • iPhone Model B: $849

  • iPhone Model C: $999

  1. The Economist’s Subscription Plans The Economist is famous for using the decoy effect in their subscription plans: The Print Subscription acts as a decoy, making the Print & Web Subscription appear as the best deal. Most subscribers end up choosing the combined plan, boosting the company's revenue.

  • Web Subscription: $59

  • Print Subscription: $125

  • Print & Web Subscription: $125

  1. Starbucks’ Beverage Sizes Starbucks uses the decoy effect with their drink sizes to influence customer choices: The Grande size serves as a decoy, making the Venti seem like a better value, encouraging customers to opt for the largest size.

  • Tall: $2.95

  • Grande: $3.65

  • Venti: $4.15


Applying the Decoy Effect in Your Marketing Strategy

As a content marketing agency or social media marketer, you can harness the power of the decoy effect to influence consumer behavior and drive sales. Here’s how:


  1. Designing Service Packages Offer multiple service packages with a strategically placed decoy to guide clients toward the desired package. For example: The Standard Package acts as a decoy, making the Premium Package seem like the best value.

  • Basic Package: $100/month

  • Standard Package: $200/month

  • Premium Package: $250/month

  1. Social Media Content Creation Offers When promoting your social media content services, use the decoy effect to highlight the value of premium services over basic ones. For instance: The Advanced Content Plan makes the Pro Content Plan appear more attractive.

  • Basic Content Plan: $500/month

  • Advanced Content Plan: $750/month

  • Pro Content Plan: $800/month

  1. Online Marketing Campaigns Design your digital marketing campaigns with decoys to steer consumers toward higher-value options. For example: The Advanced Campaign serves as the decoy, making the Premium Campaign look like the best deal.

  • Basic Campaign: $1,000

  • Advanced Campaign: $1,500

  • Premium Campaign: $1,800


The decoy effect is a powerful psychological tool that big brands have mastered to boost their sales and influence consumer choices. By understanding and leveraging this effect, you can significantly enhance your digital marketing and social media strategies. Whether you’re in content creation, social media marketing, or online marketing, incorporating the decoy effect can give you a competitive edge.


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