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Seven in Commerce

We've all seen that 'Special Offer - only $99' and we know it's a feeble psychological trick to make something look less expensive. But what about the craftier use of the number seven? Why is that used on price tags so much? Or haven't you noticed?

And why does seven appear in so many brand names?

Triple seven winning line on a slot machine

Seven is a lucky number and the reason is no secret (here's why). It is used in all aspects of life; not just gambling and fortune telling. This superstitious number is even used extensively in religion. (See lucky seven in the church)

Seven steps to ...

Seven is also popular in corporate culture.

Headings such as 'Seven Principles of Good Practice' frequently pop up in mission statements. Harrods staff in London, for example, is one of many groups expected to perform 'Seven Steps of Exceptional Service'. (Even on this site, we've identified Seven steps for fixing problems with awkward relatives and friends who insist on 'helping' at your wedding, and Seven steps for dealing with procrastination)

Seven durable brands

1.

7 Up

The understanding that seven is 'lucky' has not escaped the attention of marketing people.

Take for example the prominent '7' adorning cans of the popular soft drink 7-Up. The drink has been in production for over 80 years, being named '7-Up' in 1929.

2.

Austin seven

Seven years earlier in 1922 the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge, England, started producing the Austin 7 motor cars. It became one of the company's most popular cars and was later copied by BMW and Nissan.

The car was the basis for the first Lotus car (Mk1) and the name badge was applied to later models; the Austin A30 and the first Mini in 1959, a variation of which is still being sold over 50 years later.

3.

7 Eleven

In 1927, the 7-Eleven convenience store was founded. It has over 27,000 stores in the US and 17 other countries, had its first billion sales year at the start of the 70's (1971) and its first billion sales quarter at the end of the 70's (1979).

The store was originally open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. but now is usually open around the clock. Yet despite the changed opening hours, seven has not only been retained but is prominent in the company's logo. The parent company of 7-Eleven, the fifth largest retailer in the world, adopted the lucky number in their name: 'Seven&i Holdings'. In July 2007 (7/7), Seven&i announced their plans to increase the number of 7-Eleven stores in the USA by 7,000.

4.

Fry's

Then there's that delicious dark chocolate bar with a white fondant centre.

The makers, JS Fry and Sons (now owned by Cadbury), moulded the chocolate bar into seven pieces. Their unforgettable jingle for the TV adverts from the 1960's was: "Seven pieces of Heaven, Fry's Chocolate Cream". The original seven-section mould designed by Francis Fry in 1875 is the same today and this successful product is the oldest of Cadbury's brands.

5.

Japan Tobacco's best-selling poisons are Mild Seven...

6.

... and Seven Stars. 

7.

Windows7

For Apple Computer, Inc. System 7 has been the most successful operating system (1991-1997). In 2009 the Microsoft operating system Windows 7 was released. Why was it called Windows 7, when the product was merely a modest upgrade from Windows 6 (Vista)? A more accurate name would have been Windows 6.1 but the company's marketing strategists decided to use a luckier name.

Four years later, many people groaned at the launch of Windows 8, much prefering to retain the hugely popular Windows 7 which lasted longer than the other 7 brands. Indeed, Windows 7 proved so popular that Microsoft had to resort to an aggressive and involuntary upgrade to Windows 10, leading to an unprecedented number of complaints from their customers.

The price is right

In garage sales and junk shops (euphemsistically called 'recycle' shops) it's common in Japan to see prices discounted from 1,000 yen to 777 yen. And that's not only because 777 is a lucky number. 

We all know that 7 is closer to 5 than it is to 10, so if something is reduced in price from 10 yen to 7 yen, we instinctively think it's almost half price. What we don't immediately notice is that 777 is closer to 1,000 than 500. 

Tests in 'price psychology' have shown that if a $123.45 item is reduced to $123.44 then there's no diference in sales, but if a $100.00 item is reduced to 99.99, then sales increase because the left-most digit is dropped, the cash-reminding "$" is omitted, and the ".99" must be insignificant because it's a smaller font. We all know that's a psychological trick, and we fall for it.

More interesting, however, is that where the original price was $95 and the price is inflated to $99, sales (and profits) go up. And if the $95 price is inflated to $97, sales climb even higher because people imagine there's an even bigger discount.

Where there are no price restrictions  retailers can play with prices to see which price sells the most and generates the largest profit. That's their job.

Why are we showing photos of other products but not cigarettes? Well, let's just say, once again, that the smoking epidemic is one of the biggest causes of preventable disease, illness and premature death worldwide. (Source: www.who.int/.... See also www.helpwithsmoking.com)

Do you know the difference between Windows 8 and Windows 7?

One, of course!

Email us if you've seen this in another country

The hyperlink may no longer be active, but www.infibeam.com/... was advertising a book at the discounted price of 777 rupees. The book's title? 'Kaplan GRE Exam Subject Test: Psychology'

And where there are price restrictions retailers can play other tricks, such as publishing a higher number (of anything) before the price, which can make the price look smaller. This can happen when the reader subconsciously takes the higher number as a reference point before reading the smaller number in the price:

Available in 850 stores nationwide

Only $24

or omitting commas in the price, not including tax or delivery:

Reserve your 4D TV today

Phone 624 885 923

£1500
+delivery

and so on.

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