Placebo Effect [Price discounts = quality discounts?]

Do you still think that price discounts = quality discounts? Maybe you say no. But the truth is, many of us still do and keep doing it until now. In fact, researchers find out that the same energy drink ( SoBe adrenaline rush) with different price in the different group could show a different level in quality and effect.

The first group was told that the price of the energy drink is $1.89 (The price is low because this experiment conducted in 2005) and in another group were told that the price is $.89 because they buy it as a part of an institutional purchase. After the participants drink, they need to solve some puzzles and need to rate the energy drink’s effect on the performance of puzzle solving.

The result showed that the group that consumed the energy with a normal price ($1.89) perform significantly better than the group that consumed the energy drink with discounted price. This experiment was repeated over and over again with the similar condition, and the results were always identical even with different object like beers, foods etc.

So what is placebo effect? Why it’s so powerful that could affect our perceptions toward a product? The marketing definition is the influence of consumers beliefs and expectations, on products or services judgment. This happened because our brain already anticipated the desired outcome based on the product price.

So the participant expecting the desired outcome which is low quality (lower performance) energy drink when they were told that the price is discounted because of institutional purchase, and higher quality (better performance) when the price is normal.

Nowadays, placebo could be provoked by displaying positive testimonials, using brand ambassadors, and with advertisements so consumers will expect your product and service to be good. This effect could be backfired if your products and services are not anywhere near the expectation. That will give your consumer product dissatisfaction.

Do you agree with this post? Do you ever experience something like this before? Tell us your opinion in the comment below!


Shiv, B., Carmon, Z., & Ariely, D. (2005). Placebo Effects of Marketing Actions: Consumers May Get What They Pay For. Journal of Marketing Research, 42(4), 383-393. Retrieved from

Brynie, F. (2012, January 10). The Placebo Effect: How It Works. Retrieved July 28, 2017, from

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