Captain’s log, stardate 20171219
Sent by Jonathan Stark on December 19th, 2017
In a recent message (subject: “How do you value price if the client's financial outcome is out of your control?”), I posed the question “What is a seatbelt worth?” in order to contrast the difference between the immediate benefit of wearing a seatbelt (i.e., it makes me feel safer), with the distant and uncertain hypothetical future benefit (i.e., it might save my life if I ever happen to get in a car accident).
To extend my line of thinking to the logical (if absurd) conclusion, I talked about what sort of discussion I would have with a buyer if I were a seatbelt manufacturer who wanted to value price my product.
While I suppose it would be technically possible to value price a seatbelt, the dynamics of the marketplace in which seatbelts are sold would make it comically difficult.
Having typed all that up, it occurs to me that there are fringe markets where value pricing a seatbelt would be a lot more feasible, like professional auto racing or vintage auto restoration. But these are exceptions that prove the rule, which is:
Selling an undifferentiated commodity through a third party makes value pricing effectively impossible.