Comparative Pricing

Jersey dress with knit blazer for the office


Great length and neckline


A little sassy for non-work events!


Dress: Ross

Pumps: Alfani Step-N-Flex

Knit blazer: don’t remember, but they’re everywhere these days!

Earrings: Silpada

Bracelet: NY & Co.

Like the outfit? Click here to see more details! (We went a little picture crazy on this shoot, check out some random poses/facial expressions!)



This is another dress from Ross, and it fits the breezy, jersey dress that I’m loving for the summer. For those unfamiliar with Ross, it’s a discount store that offers name-brand styles at a lower price than the department stores. Competitors include Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, and I’m sure most regions have their own version of these types of stores. It’s always hit or miss in terms of selection and store atmosphere, but I’ve had great success in the past few months at the Ross just across the street from my office. One thing that Ross does on ALL items, is show the “Compare At” price, just above the substantially lower “Our Price”. As I’ve just completed my Buyer Behavior class, I’ve had comparative pricing on the brain, and this dress gave me a little push to write a post on it!

Comparative pricing is often ambiguous, as it generally doesn’t say where the “compare at” price comes from. Is it the suggested MSRP, the retail price at another store, or just some random dollar amount to make the “our price” look better? Part of me falls into the trap that the comparative amount is completely founded, and it does make me feel better about buying the item. But let’s be real here…. there’s a little marketing hype in this, as it’s highly unlikely that this EXACT item is currently selling elsewhere for triple the price. Granted, sometimes things go on sale because they have limited quantities, or they’re out of season. For Ross, it seems like it’s usually the former, as there’s only one dress in one size. Thus, a department store doesn’t want to carry a single piece in a single size at a single location, since it can hurt customer expectations of variety and availability. However, for stores like Ross, customers expect that they can’t find it at another Ross, and that there’s only one size.

All the pondering about why an item is priced one way at Ross and another way elsewhere is less important than what the comparative pricing does to a customer subconsciously. At first glance, in spite of the most logical argument to the contrary, our brains see the lower price and categorize the item differently. By giving you a benchmark, no matter how off-base or unfounded, the marketer for that retailer has effectively made the customer question their initial price point and evaluation of the product. It’s just like marking something for “sale” or calling something a “good deal”. Sure, most people will investigate it, but at least you’ve given them cause to further consider the product. Sometimes, the extra minute that someone thinks about the product is all that is needed to convince them of a sale.

I try to be wary of my fellow marketers’ mind tricks with “compare at” pricing, but sometimes, a piece really is a good deal! My recent jersey dress purchases from Ross have proved versatile, easy, and functional, and I don’t feel bad about the price tag either! Like the outfit? Click here for more details!

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