A High Percentage of Consumers Really Don’t Understand Percentages

A study finds that people are particularly confused when companies use percentages greater than 100 to convey information

Companies often use percentages in their marketing claims, but many consumers wildly miscalculate what those numbers mean.Illustration: Elena Xausa

Imagine being told that a product’s battery lasts 125% longer than a competitor’s battery. Sounds good. But for many people, there’s a good chance they will greatly underestimate how much better that really is.

Companies, of course, frequently use percentages to convey information to consumers. But a recent study found that many consumers wildly miscalculate what those percentages mean, especially when the percentages are greater than a hundred.

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