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The influence of price fairness on customer satisfaction: an empirical test in the context of automobile purchases

Andreas Herrmann (University of St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland)
Lan Xia (Marketing Department, Bentley College, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA)
Kent B. Monroe (University of Illinois and University of Richmond, Glen Allen, Virginia, USA)
Frank Huber (University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 6 March 2007




This paper aims to link conceptually the concepts of price fairness and customer satisfaction and empirically demonstrate the influence of perceived price fairness on satisfaction judgments. Further, it seeks to examine specific factors that influence fairness perceptions including price perception and consumer vulnerability.


The study is conducted in the context of automobile purchases in major German car dealerships. Based on a theoretical conceptualization of the constructs and an empirical pretest, 246 car buyers were surveyed and their fairness perceptions and satisfaction judgments with the car buying process measured.


The research shows that price perceptions directly influence satisfaction judgments as well as indirectly through perceptions of price fairness. Results also indicated that consumers' vulnerability, which is induced by a perceived demand‐supply relationship and the urgency of need from the consumers' side, had a negative effect on perceived price offer fairness.

Research limitations/implications

The research demonstrated the influence of perceived price fairness on satisfaction judgments empirically. The study was conducted in the context of car purchases and the generalizability of the model should be further tested.

Practical implications

The effect of consumer vulnerability implies that sellers should not only avoid exploiting their customers but should also anticipate consumers' potential feelings of being exploited. Being sensitive to the buyers’ psychological state and assuring buyers of fair treatment will enhance perceptions of price fairness without changing the price offer.


Both the direct and indirect effects of price perception on satisfaction judgment were examined in the paper. Specifically, the influences of consumer vulnerability and price procedure fairness on satisfaction judgments are new and contribute to the dual‐entitlement principle and our existing knowledge in price fairness.



Herrmann, A., Xia, L., Monroe, K.B. and Huber, F. (2007), "The influence of price fairness on customer satisfaction: an empirical test in the context of automobile purchases", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 49-58.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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