What Does Wendy’s ‘Dynamic Pricing,’ Really Mean?

What Does Wendy’s ‘Dynamic Pricing,’ Really Mean?

Welcome to Delicious or Distressing, where we rate recent food memes, videos, and other entertainment news. Last week we discussed Pitbull’s new restaurant inside a Vegas Walmart.

Dynamic pricing isn’t new. It’s why Disney World costs more during the holiday season, why a plane ticket is cheaper in the middle of the work week and, yes, why an Uber can be exorbitant when everyone’s trying to leave a sports venue at the same time. (Or when it’s raining. Or maybe even when your phone is about to die.) Wendy’s wants to get in on it.

“Beginning as early as 2025, we will begin testing more enhanced features like dynamic pricing and day-part offerings along with AI-enabled menu changes and suggestive selling,” said Wendy’s President and CEO Kirk Tanner on an earnings call earlier this month. This $20 million investment would allow for fast food chain’s menus to change in real time, altering what products and pricing are pushed based on the time of day and demand.

After a recent flurry of reports declared that Wendy’s would be instituting “surge pricing” and hiking prices during peak-traffic times, there was almost instant consumer uproar (and a Daily Show segment to boot). Wendy’s clarified, in a statement on Tuesday, that dynamic pricing wouldn’t be used to raise prices, but instead “offer discounts and value offers to our customers more easily, particularly in the slower times of day.”

Which…still sounds like prices will be more expensive during peak hours, relatively speaking. Wendy’s insists that dynamic pricing is “designed to benefit our customers and restaurant crew members,” but it’s distressing to live in a world where the price of a meal can fluctuate just as much as Beyoncé tickets or an Uber home during a thunderstorm. Even more, as trust and consensus erodes between consumers and food service over what constitutes a fair price of a meal, this opaque experiment feels especially distressing, for both customers and employees.

The success of Wendy’s dynamic pricing may determine if this becomes a new norm in food. At least, as we trudge through this C-suite-conspired hell hole together, the memes are good.

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Author:Antara Sinha | Website:www.bonappetit.com

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