2-pack and 3-pack the same price

You go into a store for a specific item. You really only need one of this item right now, but it’s consumable, so it will get used up.

Upon locating this item on the shelf, you notice it also comes in a 2-pack and a 3-pack. A single one is $8.50. Both the 2-pack and the 3-pack are $15 each.

Which do you buy?

The 3 pack obviously, barring answers such as “it’s a millstone and you need to walk home” One pricing puzzle that amuses me is at the same shop you can sometimes buy 2 litres of a fizzy drink for £1 whilst 500ml is £1.25. I wonder who keeps buying the 500ml bottles.

At the liquor store where I trade, they offer 1.75 liter of Famous Grouse for $29.99, and 1 liter for $32.99. Not being a student of Economics, I simply purchase the larger bottle.

I was once in a doughnut store where a dozen doughnuts were cheaper than six. I did not want 12 doughnuts, but the clerk refused to sell me six for the cheaper price. So I bought 12 and threw six in the trash in front of him.

Assuming that it’s something that won’t go bad in the time it takes me to use it up, and assuming that the storage space for that time won’t be onerous, I take the best per-unit price. But either one of those assumptions might or might not hold.

It’s a small, easily transportable, consumable item that typically lasts for a while, but it keeps for a long time, longer than it will likely take you to use all of it. It’s really not a trick question.

Honestly, like some of the examples posted already, this is something I encounter with disturbing frequency. It’s almost always a situation where a middle option is actually more expensive than both a single item and a greater quantity. Do people just not comparison shop? Who the fuck is buying the 2-pack?! (Yes, I know, that’s not exactly my poll example)

I buy one. Buying three means spending $6.50 more than I had intended to.

I mean, it depends on the item. If it’s like, soap, and the kind of soap I’ve been using for years, then sure, I might get 3 if I feel that my current cash flow will cover the expense. But if I want 1 chocolate bar and I buy 3 chocolate bars, then I’ll eat 3 chocolate bars when instead I’d have eaten just 1, which means that buying 3 makes me poorer and fatter.

It’s psychological - having more stuff around the house makes you use stuff more quickly.

I buy all the 3 packs they have, then I scalp them in the store’s parking lot.

People who are driving and whose car’s cupholder is perfectly capable of holding a 500ml bottle but not a 1l, for example.

And I will buy the 3 pack, except if I’m going to be moving (again) soon. My job is project-based, I change addresses like other people change clothes but that requires being able to keep a low inventory.

In Barcelona there’s a chain of bakeries which has a permanent 2-for-1 offer. It’s got to be two identical items; you can’t buy a 1€ bar of bread and a 1€ pastry. Or, well, you can, but you’ll get two of each. I prefer to go to other bakeries which don’t insist that I have to walk out with enough bread for a family of six when my household happens to include a single mouth. If half of what I bought ends up in the trash, it’s not cheaper than if do I eat it all.

I run into similar stuff like this on Amazon all the time. Get two for $5 or ten for $10. But I don’t need ten …

Sometimes I get the larger size, sometimes I don’t. As mentioned, if it’s something readily “consumed” in some form, then I go larger. So we now have a 30-pack of “60W” LED bulbs. If they lasted their claimed lifetime this would not have been a good idea. But their actual lifetime means they will likely be used up long before we are.

(OTOH, there are so many things on Amazon where the 1-pack is $5 and the 2-pack is $15. Um, so I’ll just buy two 1-packs, okay?)

It’s a deliberate strategy. The company’s not actually expecting to sell many of the two packs. It makes them available at a price very similar to the three pack so that suddenly the three pack looks cheap. Online companies do it all the time because they don’t even have to bother manufacturing many of the pointless two packs, they just put one on the website

Does anyone remember the name of this strategy? It’s bugging me.

Here’s a real example from amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Crisco+Butter+Flavor+Non+Stick+Cooking+Spray&ref=nb_sb_noss

1 can is $4.71 (or $5.59, although that one says $2.80/item, which would imply there are two?).

The 2-pack is $14.56 ($7.28/can).

The 3-pack is $14.83 ($4.94/can).

also notice a 6-pack is $23.26 ($3.88/can), and a 12-pack is $38.99 (just $3.25/can)

Who the fuck is buying the 2-pack?!

Oh, an elaboration on one of my points: Dish detergent doesn’t go bad. I bought a new bottle last week, because I’m close to using up my current bottle. The last time I bought dish detergent was something like seven years ago. If there were a three-pack of detergent available at any price point greater than the single bottle, I would still have bought the single bottle, because buying three would mean keeping two extra bottles around for literally decades. Now, a detergent bottle doesn’t take up much space, but over the course of decades, even that small amount of extra space is too much.

That’s exactly my answer. Is it stuff like junk food that is completely unnecessary? I will buy just the one. Is it stuff like toilet paper or batteries or something useful? Then I’ will buy the three.

That’s also an absurdly expensive per-can price! One of the one star reviews does note that it is less than half the price at stores. I have no idea what Crisco cooking spray costs, but I typically pay about $3-$4 for 8 oz of Pam (checking Walmart, it’s $3.44 at my nearest store) or two 10-oz cans for $7.58, and this is 6 oz of Crisco.

Oh, wait, my Costco does have the Crisco. It’s $6.54 for the same 3-pack (butter, 5 oz containers.) I know the thread isn’t about this, but that Amazon price seems absurd to me. I guess if you live somewhere where this spray is hard to find, it might be worth it, but even with Walmart shipping it to me, it’s $12.68.

The liquor store by me has the same kind of deal with Bombay Sapphire. The 1.75L bottle is cheaper than the 1L bottle. I asked a clerk once why that was. He said something about “bars aren’t allowed to stock 1.75L bottles so they have to pay the higher price.” I’m not sure I see the logic there. Bars buy their booze retail?

Nobody’s buying the two pack. It’s there to make the three pack seem cheap. Also when you give consumers a choice between two products of different, vet specific prices, they’re more likely to choose one of them rather than not buying any at all.

This website phrases it quite well:

I remember as a kid seeing a box of peppermint patties that were by the register in a coffee shop that were, “Ten cents each – two for a quarter,” spelled out like that on the sign. I wondered how many suckers fell for it.

Edit: The thread just below this when I posted is Math=memorization or logic and real life applications?

Obviously, get the package of three.

I had the exact same conversation with a liquor store owner. I’d accidentally grabbed the liter which was literally 1.9x the cost of the 0.75l. After I switched the bottles around, I asked why there was such a premium. Like your guy, he replied that bars use liters but was unable to answer why they couldn’t use other sizes.