The Impact of Syllabic Length on Price Perception: ‘Long’ vs. ‘Short’ Prices

The Impact of Syllabic Length on Price Perception.

Source: AI generated image (Dall-e)

In marketing, every detail counts, and something that is not paid much attention to when communicating prices, is the effort the brain expends in processing ‘long’ versus ‘short’ prices and its effect on the perception of its magnitude and subsequent willingness to pay. In this sense, this study suggests that prices that have a longer syllabic length, i.e. that take longer to be pronounced, are perceived as higher. For example, a price of “$749.99” (14 syllables) may be perceived as higher than “$776” (7 syllables) because the former has more syllables when expressed verbally.

Why does this happen?

The explanation lies in how we process information aurally. When prices are expressed with more syllables, our brain tends to associate the length of verbal expression with a greater magnitude. This process happens subconsciously and can influence our purchase decision without us even realizing it.

Tips for Entrepreneurs and Marketing Professionals

  • Simplicity in pricing: Consider adjusting prices to be verbally shorter and more to the point. For example, opting for prices that end in round numbers can reduce syllabic length and, therefore, the perception of a high price.
  • Communication strategies: When communicating prices in verbal announcements or in settings where the price will be read aloud (such as in radio commercials), choose price formations that are brief in syllabic terms.
  • The effectiveness of prices ending in ‘nines’: Traditionally, the price of $7,990 is used thinking that it is perceived much less than $8,000. However, “seven thousand nine hundred and ninety” has more syllables than “eight thousand,” which could affect the perception of ‘economy’. Evaluate whether this strategy is effective for your product and target.
  • Consistency in positioning: Consider the positioning you aim to achieve for your brand or product. For example, to communicate ‘economy’, consider setting the price at $7,900, reducing one ‘nine’ to decrease the syllable count. However, to signal ‘quality that matters’, $8,000 might be more effective.

Marketing Implications

Knowledge of how syllabic length affects price perception can be used to optimize pricing strategies so that they better align with business goals. In marketing campaigns, especially those that rely on oral communication, the presentation of prices must consider not only the visual impact but also the auditory one.


For entrepreneurs and marketers, understanding the effect of syllabic length on price perception opens new avenues for fine-tuning strategies and enhancing the psychology behind pricing. By adjusting how and how much is communicated in a price, you can subtly influence the consumer’s purchase decision, thus optimizing the effectiveness of your sales strategies.

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