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How the Decoy Effect Can Boost Your Sales: A Guide for Business Owners

As a business owner, you’re always looking for ways to increase sales and drive customer behavior. One powerful tactic you may not have heard of is the decoy effect, a psychological phenomenon that influences decision-making by introducing a third, less attractive option. By using the decoy effect in your marketing strategy, you can encourage customers to choose your preferred option and drive sales. In this post, we’ll explore how the decoy effect works and how you can use it to boost your business.

What is the Decoy Effect?

The decoy effect is a cognitive bias that occurs when the introduction of a third option, which is inferior in terms of value or quality, makes one of the other options appear more attractive. This effect works by creating a contrast effect between the available options. When a third, less attractive option is added to the mix, it can change the perception of the original two options, making one of them more appealing.

How to Use the Decoy Effect in Your Business

Now that you understand how the decoy effect works, it’s time to put it into practice in your business. Here are some tips on how to use the decoy effect to boost your sales:

  1. Understand your customers’ preferences: To use the decoy effect effectively, you need to understand your customers’ preferences and decision-making process. Conduct market research to find out what drives your customers’ purchasing decisions and what they value most in your products or services.
  2. Introduce a third option: Once you understand your customers’ preferences, introduce a third option that is less attractive than your primary options. This third option, also known as the decoy, should be priced lower or have lower quality than your preferred option.
  3. Highlight the value of your preferred option: After introducing the decoy, highlight the value of your preferred option. Emphasize its benefits and unique features that make it the best choice for your customers.
  4. Use visuals and descriptions: Use visuals and descriptions to make your preferred option stand out. Highlight its features and benefits in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

Example of Decoy Effect in Action

To illustrate how the decoy effect works, let’s take a look at a Mac fries example:

  • McDonald’s offers three sizes of fries: a small size for $1.50, a medium size for $2.50, and a large size for $3.50. By introducing a less attractive small size for $1.50, customers are more likely to choose the medium or large size, which offers more value for their money.


A decoy effect is a powerful tool that can help you influence customer decision-making and drive sales in your McDonald’s menu. By introducing a third, less attractive option, you can make your preferred choice appear more appealing to customers. However, be careful not to use the decoy effect in a deceptive or manipulative way. Instead, use it to highlight the value of your products or services and help customers make informed purchasing decisions.

At Inssain, we understand the importance of using creative and innovative strategies to drive business success. If you need help incorporating the decoy effect or other psychological tactics into your McDonald’s menu design, please reach out to us today, and let us help you achieve your business goals. And don’t forget to check out our Instagram slider post on the decoy effect (link here) for more information and examples! Let’s work together to take your business to the next level.