Why do prices end in $0.99?
Aug 10, 2021
Season 2 | Episode 8

Why do prices end in $0.99?

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Let’s explore the ways our brains get a little silly when it comes time to buy stuff.

Ever notice how lots of prices at the store end in $0.99? So did Eli from Philadelphia, and he asked us to find out why. Turns out, it’s a method retailers use to get us to buy something — and it’s not their only one. This week, we’ll learn about how our brains work when we’re shopping, why it’s hard to resist a sale and some of the ways physical stores encourage us to spend a little more money. Plus, Jed’s piggy bank will tell us a story … sort of. It’s our last episode of this season, and we’re going out with a jam.

Read the transcript here.

A four-panel comic in which a living brain looks at two price tags reading "$6.99" and "$7." It's a pricing trick that takes advantage of how all our brains process information. The store loses and penny but they might gain a sale.
Leigh Luna/Marketplace

And now … tips for grown-ups listening to “Million Bazillion” with kids

Money Talks

Take a minute to recap the episode and review the key points. Here are some questions to get the kids going:

  1. What’s the name of Jed’s piggy bank?
  2. How does a $1.99 price tag trick your brain, versus a $2 price tag?
  3. When something is marked “on sale,” are you more likely to want to buy it? Why or why not?
  4. Have you ever noticed a song playing in a store? What was it and how did it make you feel?
  5. What’s something you saw recently in the checkout aisle that you really wanted?

(Scroll down or click here for the answers!)

Tip Jar

There’s lots of great research out there about consumer behavior. Here are a few things we found useful:

Gimme 5

Thanks for listening to this season of “Million Bazillion”! Have the kids got something they want to ask Jed and Bridget about, thoughts or comments about this season? Have them think it over, and send us a voice memo here

Money Talks answers

  1. Piggytron.
  2. Since we read left to right, your brain sees the 1 first and thinks the price is closer to $1 than $2.
  3. Answers will vary.
  4. Answers will vary.
  5. Answers will vary.

(Click here to scroll back up to the questions!)

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The team

Jed Kim Host
Bridget Bodnar Senior Producer
Sanden Totten Editor
Erica Phillips Writer/Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sitara Nieves Executive Director of On-Demand
Chris Julin Sound designer

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