Pricey therefore good? Price affects expectations, but not quality perceptions and liking


Abstract Price and quality are positively related in people’s minds. Saying a product costs more ought to lead to higher expectations of quality and liking. Importantly, this price‐quality heuristic is argued to affect perceived quality and liking—known as the marketing placebo effect. To investigate the robustness of this effect, we conducted six studies (total N = 2842; with students from an international Dutch university and US participants from Prolific and MTurk)—expanding on previous methodological approaches with larger samples and using products not commonly investigated in previous research. In all our studies, higher prices led to higher quality and liking expectations as suggested by the price‐quality heuristic. However, we did not find a consistent effect on perceived quality and liking once people experienced the product. Our data imply that the marketing placebo effect may be less robust or generalizable as previously assumed. This (in)efficacy should bring marketers to pause on when and whether to rely on it at all.

Psychology & Marketing

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