Effects of indicating the price per unit on consumers’ behavior
Do consumers use unit prices in their product choices

For the European Commission, we investigated whether certain directives of the European Commission on consumer behavior should be modified. One of these was about the price per unit that should be indicated on products. Unit prices should help consumers choose products with the lowest unit price. However, it is unclear whether consumers use unit prices in their product choices.

CentERdata and GfK conducted an experiment in which we examined whether consumers understand unit prices on products and use them in their decision-making. In the experiment, consumers chose a number of products. For some consumers, unit prices were indicated on these products (for an example, see the figure); for other consumers, unit prices were absent.

Results revealed that consumers understood unit prices and used them in their product choices. For example, consumers payed a lower average unit price when unit prices were present than when they were absent. This was particularly the case when smaller packages (as opposed to larger packages) had the lowest unit prices, which is unexpected for consumers.

Figure. Example of products with unit prices indicated

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