Orbitz is taking some flack for presenting higher priced options to some users, based on what type of computer they are using.
Being completely fair to Orbitz, the prices themselves are no different. Only the way in which they’re presented.
To use simple numbers, let’s say that Orbitz has 20 hotel rooms that meet your search criteria. It also knows from prior experience that users of one computer system typically prefer to book “better” rooms than users of another system.
So Orbitz checks which system you have and changes the order in which those 20 rooms are shown based on that.
All the rooms are the same and the prices are the same no matter which system you’re using. The only difference is the order.
Users of one system will see nicer (read: more expensive) rooms nearer the tops of their lists while users of another will see more economical rooms nearer the top.
All users, regardless of system, are free to change the order of the list once it’s presented.
There is a huge outcry over this.
Mostly it’s a knee-jerk reaction.
Some people didn’t even realize it was possible for a website to know what kind of computer system you’re using. They find out and then fear some kind of Orwellian 1984 world in which Big Brother is watching their every move.
Others may fear that they’re being bilked for more money than another consumer who is shopping for the exact same thing.
To use an analogy, grocery stores place more popular or profitable cookies at eye level. Higher priced or “premium” cookies tend to be nearer the end of the aisle. In fact, not just any end but the end closest to the checkout lanes. Store brand and off-brand cookies are down near the floor.
We’ve all seen this and many even know it’s a deliberate arrangement, yet no one questions it.
The reasons are more complex than most people realize.
Certain people place a higher value on their time than on their money. At least up to a reasonable point. Having to maneuver halfway up a crowded aisle, fighting their way around other shoppers, and navigating 150 different cookie options is a big hassle. How much might they save? Forty-three cents? That’s not worth the time and stress so they’ll grab the more expensive cookies from near the end of the aisle.
(These cookies are near the checkout end for the very same reason; the people most likely to choose them are also most likely to avoid the back of the store altogether. They just want to get in and out as quickly as possible.)
I don’t see how what Orbitz is doing is really any different.
If, demographically speaking, people just like me show a much higher propensity for ordering something in red, why would you show me lots of blue ones? If you already know I’m a size medium, why show me clothes that you only have in stock in XXL?
In the future, nearly all shopping experiences will be custom tailored to the shopper. Especially online. Smart sellers are doing this already and so should you.
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Selling what you want to buy
Some fear this marketing strategy brings a kind of Orwellian 1984 world.
We’ve all seen this and yet the reasons are more complex than most people realize.
Certain people place a higher value on their time than on their money.
If people like me tend to order something in red, why show me blue ones?
If you know I’m a medium, why show me clothes that you only have in stock in XXL?
In the future, nearly all shopping experiences will be custom tailored to the shopper.
Smart sellers are doing this already and so should you.