Would PWYW Pricing Work in HK's Art Scene?


Pay what you want (or commonly known as PWYW) is a pricing strategy where buyers pay their desired amount for a given commodity, sometimes including zero. In some cases, a minimum (floor) price may be set, and/or a suggested price may be indicated as guidance for the buyer. The buyer can also select an amount higher than the standard price for the commodity. Many common uses of PWYW set the price prior to a purchase. PWYW is a buyer-centered form of pricing, also referred to as co-pricing.


It's all the rage right now with certain brands and commodities: you can PWYW for advertising space in magazines, e-books, headphones, yoga classes even some resteraunts like Panera bread, or Anything as Lentils, have become more popular in the past year with the PWYW payment strategy.

Fans of the pricing model declare it's a return to better customer service. That it gives more respect to the customer and allows pricing of products to be a co-creation. Giving buyers the freedom to pay what they want can be very successful in some situations, because it eliminates many disadvantages of conventional pricing. Buyers are attracted by permission to pay whatever they want, for reasons that include eliminating fear of whether a product is worth a given set price and the related risk of disappointment.


But would a payment strategy like this work in Hong Kong to help it's art scene?


Maybe... But it would depend on the right show, right venue, the right artist and the right kind of audience.


70-80% of theatre and dance shows in Hong Kong are using LCSD venues. These venues require you to use either HKTicketing or URBTIX as your provider. Limiting ticket sales to these places, requires you as the producer to set a hard price. If more venues were open to e-tickets through say... Ticketflap, Pelago or Eventbrite- we might be able to have the possibility of this strategy.


There's greater chance for success in this model with Hong Kong's music and art scene. PWYW for a painting, a guitar lesson or for the open mic night at your favorite bar. Studies show 90% of people who do PWYW, do the market value, if not more... Only 10% choose a free option or less than the market value.


What do you think? Would "Pay what you want" work in Hong Kong? Could it be a way for us to open up our audiences to people from lower incomes or allow people to take a chance on a show that they might have avoided before? Or do you think people would just take advantage of the system? I'd love to hear your thoughts.



  • Jerry
    25 February 2016

    I think it would work for charity event but outside of that people wouldn't pay. We have trouble convincing people to pay 200hkd for a show when it's on the poster... Let alone, asking people to pay what's in their heart. (We'd get screwed...)

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