Business unusual: Pay as you feel

Pay-as-you-feel organisations shouldn’t stand a chance, yet maybe they’re exactly the model some causes need

Image: Duncan Rawlinson

Do you prefer to pay more or less for your products? For every individual who prefers to pay more, there are millions who prefer to pay less.

Yet some organisations have now created a ‘pay what you want’ or ‘pay as you feel’ pricing strategy. In this situation the customer decides what to pay and can pay any price they like, with even less weight than the ‘pay what you can’ adopted by some charities. Yorkshire in particular is leading the way in the ‘pay what you want’ model.

In York, YourCafe has established a presence. Similar to the services offered by The Real Junk Food Project based in Tang Hall Community Centre, YourCafe recycles food from nearby supermarkets and offers a café service once

a week, with the price at the discretion of customers. In Pudsey, Leeds, the Real Junk Food Project has opened the first British pay-as-you-feel supermarket (the second one globally).

As a business model, pay as you feel could not be applied to every product, but it has its uses. Pricing something accurately can sometimes be costly. Buyers sometimes experience angst as to whether a product is really worth it, often only being comfortable with a lower price.

The model recognises scenarios in which a product might be worth more to someone else. It discards the idea that pricing is a zero sum and creates more transactions of mutual convenience. For services like YourCafe, it provides a sustainable way of eliminating food wastage while customers are able to gain a meal at a price they see fit. If one couldn’t pay what they felt, more waste would be created, defeating the point. Next time you find yourself with the option, ask how much you’d pay.

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