Canadian consumers view older forms of dynamic pricing as more fair than some of the newer technologically-enabled forms of changing prices for different consumers.
A Consumers Council of Canada report on Dynamic Pricing showed that older practices such as seniors discounts and loyalty programs are seen as more fair than newer practices that alter prices based on web sites visited or other factors.
The research defined dynamic pricing as offering identical or similar products or services to different customers at different prices. It based its results on a series of focus groups and online surveys of Canadians. Survey participants were asked to evaluate the fairness of 10 different dynamic pricing types, collected into three groupings.
Of the three groupings, traditional types of dynamic pricing – lower pricing for seniors, volume discounts to frequent customers and loyalty programs – were most positively received. Yet even as well established as those practices are, consumers do not consider them exceptionally fair. Though almost all Canadians participate in some form of loyalty program, only 45 per cent of respondents found them as fair to the consumer.
Survey responses to a suite of practices that use technology to provide dynamic pricing showed a “fair” rating from 20 per cent of respondents, “unfair” by 30 per cent and the remainder more neutral. Practices in this category included Uber surge pricing (higher prices during peak times of activity), and differently priced sports tickets based on the quality of opponent and date of the game.
Participants were most negative towards the fairness of dynamic pricing based on demographics, behavioural or personal information. Examples included hotel chains offering different prices for identical rooms to different intermediaries that serve different clientele, or travel sites that track web browser cookies and raise prices for those visiting the site a second or third time, assuming they have a higher interest in purchasing. The latter scenario had the lowest level of fairness evaluated by the survey participants, with 41 per cent strongly disagreeing with the fairness of the practice and 65 per cent disagreeing at least somewhat.