Pricing That Shapes Reality

I read a great article yesterday, Why it Can Feel Good to Overspend, and it challenged my thinking.  Several months ago I wrote a post on the Force 5 blog saying that marketing promises set customer expectations; and that unless the customer’s experience meets or exceeds those expectations, customers are not satisfied.

However, according to a study conducted in 2008, when it comes to setting high expectations based on price, customers can actually experience more satisfaction. Researchers placed the same wine in two different bottles. One bottle was a $90.00 label, the other a $10 label.  When the volunteers were told the prices of the wine they were drinking, they ranked wine from the $90.00 bottle as twice as good.

Volunteers were not simply tricking themselves.  Brain scans of the drinkers showed the areas of the brain that detected pleasantness being activated while consuming the $90 bottle. This meant that the drinkers we actually experiencing a better-tasting wine from the $90 bottle even though the two wines were identical. 

So, what do you think? Does setting high expectations for customers have greater potential to increase their experience with your business or diminish it?