Mac users are wealthier than their PC counterparts, and companies are eager to exploit that.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that people who use Mac computers are willing to pay up to 30% more than PC users on Orbitz.com. This has led Orbitz to declare that it will show Mac users higher prices.
At first, this seems ridiculous and unfair – the same exact product being offered at different prices. But we shouldn’t be surprised – it’s hardly different than traditional ways of exploiting regional price differentials and targeting certain markets with inflated prices. The only difference is that now, companies use a sort of virtual geography to organize consumers according to wealth and willingness to pay. The type of computer you use is just the tip of the iceberg. Companies are trying to track your every move online – the magazines you read, the products you buy, the clubs you belong to – all in order to determine what sort of consumer you are and how much you are willing to pay for whatever they are selling.
Retailers often try to guess our willingness to pay by determining our wealth. The way you dress won’t matter at fixed price department stores (think Walmart or Macy’s), but how about at a bank, or a car dealership? Check out this gem from the Cosby Show.
Is it just me, or is it funnier in German?
But it’s not so simple. In the next post, we’ll take a look at how companies specifically target poor consumers in order to charge them more. For now though, watch out Mac users. Know that when shopping for airline tickets, you may be better off searching on your friend’s PC.