When Radiohead asked fans to pay whatever they wanted to download the 2007 album In Rainbows, the offbeat strategy hardly seemed like one that other marketers might want to adopt. Fast-forward to the tough environment we’re currently in, however, and “pay what you want” seems like a novel way to attract buzz and engender goodwill by making patrons feel empowered. And brands with a quality offering may even come out ahead when consumers reappraise what constitutes good value.
In February, Singapore’s new Ibis hotel ran a publicity stunt via the site paywhatyouwant.com.sg, where guests could name their price for a room during a brief window each day. A handful of restaurants around the world have also picked up on the practice. Little Bay in Farringdon, London, ran a “pay what you think it’s worth” promotion during February, and almost 10,000 diners forked out an average of £17.25 apiece—well over the normal average spend of £13.50.
The owner of Taverne Crescent restaurant in Montreal—where “pay what you want” is in effect during lunch on weekdays—told Canada’s CTV: “We want people to come with a smile and leave with a bigger smile.” Any business that can accomplish this amid today’s doom and gloom will surely reap benefits in the long term.