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JWPM Consulting

Discriminatory pricing

30 October 2021

Pure price discrimination is a pricing strategy where identical products or services are sold to different market segments at different prices.



Common examples of price discrimination are...

  • Offering different pricing for a seat in a cinema based on age (Children, Adults, and Seniors).
  • In public transport: ticket prices are frequently priced differently for commuters, students, seniors, and time of day or day of week.
  • Software vendors often have different rates for business, home users, government, and education.
  • Self-employed house cleaners will often adjust their hourly rates depending on their perception of the customer's capacity to pay, charging people in wealthy suburbs higher rates than others. Trades people often adopt the same pricing strategy.
  • In Australia, under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, some providers of allied health or medical services (for example physiotherapists) charge a higher price for NDIS funded customers than normal consumers (because "the government is paying").
  • Price checks on the same basket of goods often reveals that pricing within the same supermarket chain varies from suburb to suburb. This is explained by the chains as simply the store manager exercising discretion in response to competition or clearing slow moving stock, however it is suspected that prices are set in response to the willingness of consumers to pay. Some socioeconomic groups are more price sensitive than others.

Price discrimination works best if...

  • The seller gains from adopting the strategy. Normally, it aids in maximizing sales yield; capacity is sold first to those who are prepared to pay higher, and then offered to those who can't pay the higher price next.
  • The buyers do not communicate with each other and have no opportunity to compare the prices they are paying for the same product or service from the same vendor.
  • There is little opportunity for one customer segment profiting by reselling the product at a profit to another customer segment thus becoming a competitor.

The disadvantages of price discrimination are...

  • The damage to brand reputation when one customer discovers another customer being charged less for exactly the same product or service.
  • The additional administrative workload that may be required to ensure customers are honest about their personal criteria that qualifies them for the lower price.
  • Losing market share through inadequately communicating to customer segments they qualify for a lower price tier.

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Other pricing strategies:

Cost Plus Pricing
Penetration Pricing
Price Skimming
Premium Pricing
Price Bundling
Yield pricing

Pricing strategy overview:
Pricing Strategy

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