Did you know that your personal circumstances may be influencing the price you pay for goods, especially if you are buying online?
In a recent press release the government in partnership with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced:
New research is to be commissioned to explore how widespread the practice of targeting consumers through personalised pricing and search results is, as companies can use customer data and technology, to offer different prices to consumers based on factors which may include geography and marital status.
Research comes as government held the first meeting of the Consumer Forum with government and regulators this week to discuss what more the government and regulators can do to protect vulnerable consumers.
The government and the (CMA) are to undertake pioneering new research into the practice of retailers targeting online shoppers and charging people different prices for the same items through personalised pricing, such as holidays, cars and household goods.
Personalised pricing involves customers spending different amounts when searching for the same products, tailored to the specific customer journey they have taken. The research will explore whether, and how, personalised pricing makes use of personal data points such as a consumer’s address, marital status, birthday and travel history.
The government-commissioned research, supported by the CMA, will explore how widespread this practice is, how businesses are applying it through different mediums like search engines, apps or comparison tools and the extent to which personalised pricing is preventing shoppers getting the best deals.
This week the Financial Conduct Authority also announced it will be investigating the issue of personalised pricing for car and home insurance policies after finding hidden discrimination between customers. The regulator’s study will assess the scale of the issue, whom it affects, and possible solutions.
Cynically, this may open up opportunities if you are prepared to “appear” to these online filters as less than wealthy. In fact, it may be worth creating a network of “purchasers” to see if they are all quoted the same price. Then the lowest price quoted can make the purchase.
It is interesting to speculate on what has been lost in transparency as we dive deeper into this digital world…