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Journal Article

Consumer Perceptions of Price (Un)Fairness

Lisa E. Bolton, Luk Warlop and Joseph W. Alba
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 29, No. 4 (March 2003), pp. 474-491
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/346244
Stable URL:
Page Count: 18
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Consumer Perceptions of Price (Un)Fairness
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A series of studies demonstrates that consumers are inclined to believe that the selling price of a good or service is substantially higher than its fair price. Consumers appear sensitive to several reference points—including past prices, competitor prices, and cost of goods sold—but underestimate the effects of inflation, overattribute price differences to profit, and fail to take into account the full range of vendor costs. Potential corrective interventions—such as providing historical price information, explaining price differences, and cueing costs—were only modestly effective. These results are considered in the context of a four‐dimensional transaction space that illustrates sources of perceived unfairness for both individual and multiple transactions.

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