Personalised pricing

Digitalisation in areas such as the financial services sector has been advancing rapidly for some twenty years. It is already becoming clear that many developments observable in the financial sector will be equally significant for other key areas.

In the commercial sector, the focus is mainly on personalised marketing in the form of individually tailored advertising and pricing. Whereas personalised communication was only possible to a limited degree in analogue commerce, the internet and big data now allow businesses to collect more and more personal data on their customers. Companies strive to achieve a perfect assessment of – or even to predict – their customers’ needs. It is now possible to follow customers 24 hours a day via mobile devices and speak to them in a more targeted way with preselected product suggestions and individual prices.

Personalised pricing means tailoring product prices to specific individuals for the same product at the same time. Large-scale data collection and the analysis of consumer behaviour are already putting the conditions in place for such a scenario, even if personalised pricing has barely been detectable in practice to date. A political and public debate on the use of personalised pricing is taking shape.

In its thematic paper, “The digital world and commerce: Consumers in personalised e-commerce” (January 2016), the Advisory Council for Consumer Affairs has addressed this phenomenon, and its working paper on “Personalised Pricing” (August 2016) examines these issues further.