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Marketing strategy: Pay-What-You-Want applied in the airline business

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Here’s an interesting Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) initiative launched by Brussels Airlines (an airline of the Lufthansa group) to promote its premium tickets (if you want to know more about the concept of Pay-What-You-Want look at those two examples : the first one in the press sector, the other one in e-commerce)
It offers customers who have already booked a flight to bid the price they want to get an upgrade (either business class called “Bizz & Class” or flex & fast”). The airline even provides a little graph indicating the “Likelihood to win” based on prices offered by other customers.

Although this concept may seem interesting at first sight, a closer look shows that it doesn’t respect the conditions of a PWYW pricing scheme. The consumer is indeed not free to propose the price he wants. Brussels Airlines has set a minimum price under which you can’t go. For the “Bizz and Class” offer you can’t bid less than 200€ per flight route. For the “Flex and Fast” offer you can’t bid less than 50€.

I find this system actually very frustrating. The promise made in the direct marketing campaign is “propose a price for you upgrade” which sounded like fun and worth a try. It’s not until you land on the page that you discover that you can’t actually freely propose your price. This gives the impression that the dice are loaded and that you won’t be able to strike a good deal.

I question the efficiency of the system and wonder whether customer actually bid such amounts to get an upgrade.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Pierre-Nicolas est Docteur en Marketing et dirige l'agence d'études de marché IntoTheMinds. Ses domaines de prédilection sont le BigData l'e-commerce, le commerce de proximité, l'HoReCa et la logistique. Il est également chercheur en marketing à l'Université Libre de Bruxelles et sert de coach et formateur à plusieurs organisations et institutions publiques. Il peut être contacté par email, Linkedin ou par téléphone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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