Is font size a big deal? A transaction – acquisition utility perspective on comparative price promotions

Praveen Aggarwal, Rajiv Vaidyanathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: In promotional ads that contain both the Regular Price and Sale Price information, this paper aims to investigate whether changing the font sizes of these two prices has an effect on how consumers process the ad message. The authors use acquisition-transaction utility perspective to identify key differences in mechanisms invoked by the larger font size of the Regular Price vs that of the Sale Price. Design/methodology/approach: Study 1 uses eye-tracking apparatus to study subjects’ responses to a full-color, realistic-looking ad for a digital camera. Study 2 uses a survey questionnaire to gauge subjects’ responses to a similar print ad. The font sizes of Regular Price and Sale price were manipulated while keeping all the other elements of the ad the same. Subjects were undergraduate students who participated in the study for a small incentive. Findings: The authors find that making the relative font size of Regular Price bigger invokes a transaction-utility mechanism where customers’ attention is focused on the savings that can be had using the promotion. A bigger font size of Sale Price invokes an acquisition-utility mechanism that draws on the customers’ value consciousness. Research limitations/implications: The use of student subjects and only one product category in the experiments may limit the generalizability of the study’s findings. Practical implications: In print ads, managers predominantly use a bigger font size for the Sale Price. This study suggests that the choice of a bigger font size should really be driven by the objective of the promotion: a bigger font size for Sale Price is advised if the objective is to take an acquisition utility approach, whereas a bigger font size for Regular Price is advised for using a transaction utility approach. Originality/value: This study is the first attempt at using an acquisition-transaction utility perspective for understanding the use of relative font sizes in the context of price promotions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-416
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Consumer Marketing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Acquisition utility
  • Font size in ads
  • Numeric cognition
  • Price promotions
  • Price size congruity
  • Transaction utility


Dive into the research topics of 'Is font size a big deal? A transaction – acquisition utility perspective on comparative price promotions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this