Gender Based Pricing Structure

Gender Based Pricing Structure

I was reading this email I received today about a local martial arts instructor who was going to be offering classes for a fee when normally he did it for free of charge. While I guess most people don’t have an issue with that, he mentioned that all men are to pay a monthly fee eventually whereas women can train for free.

This then created a lot of debate as people began to say how that was unfair as well as comments how maybe the instructor just adores women so much that he can’t bear to charge them. From a commercial business perspective I think I know exactly what he was trying to do. Basically, since he wants to start generating an income and things like martial arts normally attract more men, making it free for women will hopefully expand his potential female student roster. Then as that builds up he would start charging them too. Course, that is all just my assumption.

You see this all the time in places such as health clubs or dating services. Sometimes the default price for women are more expensive automatically such as getting haircuts or photography studio shoots. The example with say a photoshoot though I would say it has to do more with the labor as stereotypically speaking a women normally asks for more such as having to style the long hair, lots of makeup, etc.

So for this martial arts instructor I would be inclined to say that he is going to lose male students as a result of this decision. That should make you think, when exactly is it appropriate to have a gender based pricing structure for your services and what is considered tolerable to most people?


  • joewatch 5/16/2009

    I don’t think the instructor is going to lose male students – most people will take a class based on the quality of the instruction compared to the price they are paying. As long as the rate is competitive with other instructors, it should be fine. In fact, he may be able to attract even more male students if he has a lot of women in the class, the same way that a bar or club will have a “ladies night” where the women get free entry or free/discount drinks.

  • Alan Yu 5/16/2009

    I think the tricky thing for this in terms of price competitiveness is that it’s not exactly a commercial esque setting. Imagine it’s like a guy who originally volunteered his time to teach people English for free at a coffee shop and now he has decided to charge the males while still willing to help females for free.

  • J.C. Tay 5/17/2009

    This instructor is really good in marketing. By charging the males but not the females, he successfully creating a topic in the city/town. He might gain extra publicity (newspapers/magazine/etc.) soon. Further more, with more female in his class, he will attract event more male students as well. I suppose his third step is to increase he male’s fee follow by a “rumor” of “he might start charging for the female soon” (of course, this will not happen.)

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