Fair price: research outside marketing

Sarah Maxwell (Fordham University, New York City, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Publication date: 31 October 2008



The purpose of this paper is to summarize the current research in disciplines outside marketing that applies to price fairness: research by behavioral economists, primate behavior researchers and social neuroscientists.


The approach is descriptive, summarizing the extensive research into fairness being done in disciplines other than marketing.


Research outside marketing indicates that a fair price is a preference. It has social utility that is independent of the economic utility of a low price. Consumers can actually harm themselves to punish what they perceive to be an unfair price. Conversely, a fair price triggers the reward center of the mind, stimulating happiness. The research also indicates that the response to a fair or unfair price is emotional: fast and automatic. The strength of that emotional response to unfairness varies across people. However, despite the variation in reactions, to ignore the concern for fairness is to miss a major motivation in economic decision making.


The fairness research in other disciplines both supports and informs the marketing research into what constitutes a fair price and how people respond to price (un)fairness.



Maxwell, S. (2008), "Fair price: research outside marketing", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 17 No. 7, pp. 497-503. https://doi.org/10.1108/10610420810916399

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