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The Flat-Rate Pricing Paradox: Conflicting Effects of "“All-You-Can-Eat"” Buffet Pricing


  • David R Just

    (Cornell University)

  • Brian Wansink

    (Cornell University)


Are price and consumption independent in flat-rate price service contexts? A field experiment at an all-you-can-eat pizza restaurant shows that a 50%% discount on the price of the meal led customers to consume 27.9%% less pizza (2.95 versus 4.09 pieces). A second analysis indicated that individual taste ratings of this pizza tended to be inversely related to how much is consumed. One possible interpretation of these two findings is that individuals in a flat-rate (or fixed-price) context may consume the amount that enables them to get their money's worth rather than consuming until their marginal utility of consumption is 0. © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • David R Just & Brian Wansink, 2011. "The Flat-Rate Pricing Paradox: Conflicting Effects of "“All-You-Can-Eat"” Buffet Pricing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 193-200, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:93:y:2011:i:1:p:193-200

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gregory Colson & Jay R. Corrigan & Carola Grebitus & Maria L. Loureiro & Matthew C. Rousu, 2016. "Which Deceptive Practices, If Any, Should Be Allowed in Experimental Economics Research? Results from Surveys of Applied Experimental Economists and Students," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 98(2), pages 610-621.
    2. Pham, Matthew V. & Roe, Brian E., 2014. "The Effect of an Information Intervention on the Healthfulness of College Meal Plan Purchases in a Use-it or Lose-it Meal Plan Currency System," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170166, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Ho, Teck Hua & Png, Ivan P. L. & Reza, Sadat, 2017. "Sunk Cost Fallacy in Driving the World's Costliest Cars," MPRA Paper 82139, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Eric Johnson & Suzanne Shu & Benedict Dellaert & Craig Fox & Daniel Goldstein & Gerald Häubl & Richard Larrick & John Payne & Ellen Peters & David Schkade & Brian Wansink & Elke Weber, 2012. "Beyond nudges: Tools of a choice architecture," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 487-504, June.
    5. Loureiro, Maria L. & Rahmani, Djamal, 2013. "Calorie labeling and fast food choices in surveys and actual markets: some new behavioral results," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150622, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Loureiro, Maria L. & Rahmani, Djamel, 2016. "The incidence of calorie labeling on fast food choices: A comparison between stated preferences and actual choices," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 82-93.
    7. Chao, Yong & Fernandez, Jose & Nahata, Babu, 2015. "Pay-what-you-want pricing: Can it be profitable?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 176-185.
    8. Ortiz, Selena E. & Zimmerman, Frederick J. & Adler, Gary J., 2016. "Increasing public support for food-industry related, obesity prevention policies: The role of a taste-engineering frame and contextualized values," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 142-153.

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