The science behind discount marketing in e-commerce

October 9, 2018

The science behind discount marketing in e-commerce

Do you know that the first ever coupon has appeared in the 19th century? It was distributed by Coca-Cola and gave one free glass of water in any dispenser. Between 1894 and 1913 one of the nine Americans had used this coupon. Overall, 8,5 million glasses of soft drinks were handed out. If only a company know about how that step will reshape the whole existing commerce. Currently, almost every company has their own discount policy and approach. Brands, that understand the psychology behind how people make a decision during discounts can create long-term relations with their customers.

Furthermore, coupons and other pricing discounts can influence our physical and mental health.  Coupons can raise happiness and reduce stress. According to a study by Dr. Paul J. Zak (2012), customers who got a $10 voucher experienced a 38% increase in oxytocin levels. As a result, they were 11% happier than those who did not receive a coupon. The heart and respiration rates were decreased by 5% and 38% respectively.


See it? Now, let’s explore the answers to the most popular questions about developing discount policy.

Which discounts are optimal?

In the mid of 1800s Ernst Weber, the scientist, conduct a research. He showed to two participants two different stimuli at a time, for example, lines, sounds, touch feelings. They have to determine, which line is longer, what sound is louder, which touch feels like it has more pressure to it. And in such way he observed two things:

  • our sensory stimuli have limits: you have to add a defined amount before people start noticing changes. Weber called it Just Noticeable Difference (JND)
  • The size of JND is depended on the initial object size

Later, this discovery will be called Weber’s Law, and it becomes one of the fundamental marketing statement.   

If you want your discount will be noticeable and valuable, give more than a 10% discount.

Conclusion: a discount should be more than 10%


How to display discounts?

According to the psychology, people tend to rely on the first information, that they saw (anchoring). This simple rule marketers, usually, apply, when they create cards with the old and new price. Old price is like an anchor for the comparison.

Take an example, you likely buy a dress, which cost $100, if there is 50% discount, rather than the similar dress with the similar price, but without the discount offer.

Another reference is the rule of ordering your items by price. The same product with the cost of $1000 will look like a bargain near the item, which cost is $2000. At the same time, if we put this price near the good for $40, our buying rate will be decreased.

Conclusion: utilize price anchoring


Which price is the best?  

Ok, this old and bored rule about the price, that should end on the “9”, know almost all. But, do not forget about it, because it really works!

According to a study by Quantitative Marketing and Economics, people buy more often products, which price ends on the “9”, than the similar goods with other prices. It was checked on the woman’s online store, where items with “9” in price selling better than others goods (even if they have a lower price) on average by over 24%.

Conclusion: remember about the magic number “9”


Where to tell the customers about discounts?

1. Pricing table

If you run an online store on the WordPress, you can use WooBeWoo Pricing Table plugin.  After installing and activating the plugin, navigate to Product properties box and add a new field. 

sale price

Users can choose among such variants:

  • regular price
  • sale price
  • sales price dates from
  • sales price dates to
  • total sales

There is an example of implementing a sale price in the Pricing Table plugin.

price table

2. Main products table

Showing the products under the sale on the main products table is one of the best and commonly used practice.


You can quickly create a similar and customizable product table with the WooBeWoo plugin.

product table

3. Special category

The next way is to make a special sale section inside the filter bar. It will save the time for your customers to find the best deal.

sale section


With WooBeWoo Product Filter plugin you can not only create a new category with the Sale products but also make them more noticeable by adding the badges.


Discounts and special offers can be your secret weapon. Statistics show that 91% of consumers will retain after offered a coupon. So, use this secret tool right to get the most conversions.

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