‘Lucky’ numbers make for unlucky customers
Chinese consumers pay too much for goods and services because of superstitions surrounding particular numbers, Binghamton University economist Zili Yang says.
In a study published recently by The Journal of Socio-Economics, Yang reports that an aversion to the number 4, combined with a preference for the numbers 6 and 8, may translate into a “surcharge” of as much as 1.4 percent of China’s gross domestic product.
In China, the world’s second-largest economy, superstition plays an important role in the pricing of consumer goods. The number 4 shares the same sound as “death” in Chinese; 6 is a lucky number that represents “smooth”; and the number 8 sounds like the word “prosperity” in Chinese.
It’s not uncommon for a culture to have such preferences, Yang notes: Consider Americans’ aversion to the number 13. The difference is that the Chinese superstition has significant economic implications.
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