The problem with unbundled pricing (pricing separately for each component of a monolith) is the multiple purchase decisions the customer has to make. Every time the customer opens the wallet and pays for an extra, they feel increasing pain (Prospect Theory). Customers will see each transaction as a loss and according to Prospect Theory the pain from multiple small losses can be more than the pain from a single loss of same magnitude. The pain from losses do not increase linearly with amount paid but the pain is felt every time customers have to pay.
Take the case of airline unbundled pricing, specifically the baggage fees. Profit from baggage fee is nothing to be sneezed at. For someone who travels a few times a year and checks-in bags, it is painful each time they pay for bags and leads to brand erosion. United has come up with an innovative way to reduce this pain by reducing number of payments – they now offer an yearly subscription for baggage check-ins for $249.
Forget about first and second bag fees for an entire year. With Premier Baggage, you and up to eight companions can check up to two standard bags each without fees, where applicable, every time you travel in the United States
Premier Baggage also makes a great gift for a frequent traveler.
This is a great pricing plan in many ways:
- It addresses the multiple pain instances by reducing payments.
- It captures value upfront.
- Someone buying this subscription is going to prefer the same airline for the entire year even though they should not (because after they paid the fee it is sunk and they should compare the cost of available options for each trip).
- The best possible case for United is people buying it not using it.
- The worst possible case is a group of eight companions checking in two bags even once. But in that case they are generating so much revenue from the tickets that it more than makes up for lost baggage fees.
- They have a good chance of getting businesses to buy it for their employees or gifting to their clients/customers.
- To United there is really no cost, all of this is profit. The only cost is the opportunity cost of lost baggage fee from high volume and or frequent users but that is made up and more from ticket sales.
Now if only they can turn profit from the rest of the operations.