Do you really want fries with that?
Combo deals are a popular offering, with fast food outlets, restaurants and even snack kiosks at the cinema grouping items together for sale at one price. While these deals can represent good value for money, behavioural psychologists warn they can be a “common trick” to get shoppers to buy more.
William Poundstone wrote on his Priceless blog at Psychology Today: “The burger plus fries plus soda combination costs just pennies more than burger plus soda à la carte. You might as well get the fries — you're practically throwing away money if you don't order them.” But Poundstone said combo deals also foster confusion, making it difficult to work out exactly how much each component costs and “whether it’s too much”.
It could mean shoppers are more likely to spend more – or as the author explained “consumers are a bit less price-sensitive with combos”.
Do the maths on combos – sometimes the price doesn’t add up
Personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly issued the warning “beware of combo deals” at the movies. Combo deals may not come with price savings – and can simply be a ploy to get people to buy more.
The blog gave the example of a movie theatre in the United States offering a combo deal on popcorn, candy and a drink. But the price of buying each individually was the same price as the combo.
It said: “There’s no savings at all. It’s merely a ploy to get people to order all three at once when they might not have done so otherwise.”
Like any spending, it is worthwhile taking the time to consider if you really want the items and then crunching the numbers to check the deal is a good one.