Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Magical numbers, or why they want us to love 99 cents and 99.9%...

I wonder which smart ass first came up with fixing prices of things we buy at $xx.99. Ever since, this method of pricing is almost universal in, say, supermarkets and department stores. This pricing strategy is probably also an early example of Nudge Theory:

I suppose, as a sales strategy, it must be working! Today, this magical number combination is on so many product labels, especially health-related and body/home cleansing products:

Some even make claims such as "Tested by..." (above).

Survey results or sample tests are included in some ads (this one below claimed a "more modest" 98%; in any case, with a sample of 50, all the percentages will be even ones, with 98% the highest short of 100%)...


So what should one make of such figures that suggest "almost" 100% efficacy? I found this excellent Wall Street Journal article which I highly recommend:

Kills 99.9% Of Germs -- Under Some Lab Conditions

This interesting article below makes the case that, in the computing services industry, 99.9% "uptime" (ie, 0.1% "downtime") is not good enough. It has to be 100% uptime:

Likewise, renowned American economist Paul Krugman says if we go beyond the 1% (wealthy) versus the 99% (the rest of us) divide, and drill the figures down to 0.1% vs 99.9%, we get even more interesting results. He was referring to the US but I wonder if the pattern is similar elsewhere in First World countries:


To wrap up on a lighter note, I found these:

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