Beyond posted prices: the past, present and future of participative pricing mechanisms

02 Feb 2018

Driven by the low transaction costs and interactive nature of the internet, customer participation in the price-setting process has increased. These changes were first brought about by the rise of online auctions in the early 2000s, followed by the emergence of newer participative mechanisms. Today, platforms such as eBay have popularized online auctions on a global scale, Priceline has made headlines with its name-your-own-price (NYOP) business model, and Humble Bundle has enabled independent musicians and game developers to market their works through pay-what-you-want (PWYW) pricing. Advertising exchanges conduct several hundred million individual auctions per day to sell online advertising slots. These are just a few examples of participative pricing in transactions among consumers or businesses. In parallel, academic research on participative pricing has blossomed in recent years, with an overarching concern over the profitability and other marketing implications these mechanisms have on sellers and buyers. The present paper contributes to this literature in three ways. First, we propose a definition of participative pricing mechanisms, as well as a useful taxonomy. Second, we discuss the current understanding by synthesizing conceptual and empirical academic literature. Third, we outline promising research questions with a key focus on the related behavioral aspects of buyers and sellers.