When is Pricing Unethical? Pharmaceuticals, Rideshares, Soft Drinks, and Travel

by: Aradhna Krishna

Publication Date: April 19, 2022
Length: 8 pages
Product ID#: 4-367-485

Core Disciplines: Ethics, Marketing/Sales

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Teaching Note

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This case provides many different examples of pricing with ethical concerns that are spread across two common pricing contexts—value pricing and dynamic pricing. The examples include pharmaceutical pricing, ridesharing, dynamically priced vending machines, and more. These brief examples raise substantial issues about pricing for class discussion. Students should think about why ethical dilemmas arise in each of the examples, and if there is any underlying essence that ties together these ethical dilemmas.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Deeply consider the ethicality of pricing decisions.
  • Understand how value-based and dynamic pricing can often result in pricing decisions that appear unethical to consumers (and can have a consumer backlash).
  • Analyze how context is very important in the perception of pricing ethics, i.e., the same pricing decision may be ethical in one context, but unethical in another.
  • Recognize that “essential” items have a very strong relationship to the perception of ethics.
  • Identify what constitutes an essential item and describe how “essentiality” itself is malleable.