With ‘pay what you want,’ Radiohead inspires recessionary marketing

colm_little-bay-pic-1When 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.

1 Responses to “With ‘pay what you want,’ Radiohead inspires recessionary marketing”

  • ‘Pay as you feel’ is definitely a notion that can put a smile on faces and engender goodwill.

    Lentil As Anything is a restaurant (and a not for profit organization) in Melbourne that has been providing meals on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis for a number years now.

    A recent report on the restaurant indicated payments per meal have recently halved, as a result of the economic conditions. But, similar to your comments regarding Ibis and Taverne Crescent, the individual payment size may not be the most important measure of success for this idea.

    The role of Lentil as Anything – as a new model of community organization that aims to address social isolation and develop and encourage the ideals of trust, generosity and respect – is surely something that could inspire others, and play an important role within local communities as anxiety levels rise.


    Interestingly, last week another restaurant called SoBo made the news by announcing it would move to a ‘pay as you feel’ model for certain nights during the week


Leave a Reply