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Pricing Strategies

A business can use a variety of pricing strategies when selling a product or service. The price can be set to maximize profitability for each unit sold or from the market overall. It can be used to defend an existing market from new entrants, to increase market share within a market or to enter a new market.


Types of Pricing Strategies:

1. Penetration Pricing.

The price charged for products and services is set artificially low in order to gain market share. Once this is achieved, the price is increased. This approach was used by France Telecom and Sky TV. These companies need to land grab large numbers of consumers to make it worth their while, so they offer free telephones or satellite dishes at discounted rates in order to get people to sign up for their services. Once there is a large number of subscribers prices gradually creep up. Taking Sky TV for example, or any cable or satellite company, when there is a premium movie or sporting event prices are at their highest – so they move from a penetration approach to more of a skimming/premium pricing approach.

2. Skimming Pricing

Price skimming sees a company charge a higher price because it has a substantial competitive advantage. However, the advantage tends not to be sustainable. The high price attracts new competitors into the market, and the price inevitably falls due to increased supply.

Manufacturers of digital watches used a skimming approach in the 1970s. Once other manufacturers were tempted into the market and the watches were produced at a lower unit cost, other marketing strategies and pricing approaches are implemented. New products were developed and the market for watches gained a reputation for innovation.

3. Competition Pricing

Competitive pricing consists of setting the price at the same level as one’s competitors. This method relies on the idea that competitors have already thoroughly worked on their pricing. In any market, many firms sell the same or very similar products, and according to classical economics, the price for these products should, in theory, already be at an equilibrium (or at least at a local equilibrium). Therefore, by setting the same price as its competitors, a newly-launched firm can avoid the trial and error costs of the price-setting process. However, every company is different and so are its costs. Considering this, the main limit of the competitive pricing method is that it fails to account for the differences in costs (production, purchasing, sales force, etc.) of individual companies. As a result, this pricing method can potentially be inefficient and lead to reduced profits.

For example, a firm needs to price a new coffee maker. The firm’s competitors sell it at $25, and the company considers that the best price for the new coffee maker is $25. It decides to set this very price on their own product. Moreover, this pricing method can also be used in combination with other methods such as penetration pricing for example, which consists of setting the price below that of its competition (for instance, in this example, setting the price of the coffee maker at $23).

4. Product Line Pricing.

Where there is a range of products or services the pricing reflects the benefits of parts of the range. For example car washes; a basic wash could be $2, a wash and wax $4 and the whole package for $6. Product line pricing seldom reflects the cost of making the product since it delivers a range of prices that a consumer perceives as being fair incrementally – over the range.

If you buy chocolate bars or potato chips (crisps) you expect to pay X for a single packet, although if you buy a family pack which is 5 times bigger, you expect to pay less than 5X the price. The cost of making and distributing large family packs of chocolate/chips could be far more expensive. It might benefit the manufacturer to sell them singly in terms of profit margin, although they price over the whole line. Profit is made on the range rather than single items.

5. Psychological Pricing.

This approach is used when the marketer wants the consumer to respond on an emotional, rather than rational basis. For example Price Point Perspective (PPP) 0.99 Cents not 1 US Dollar. It’s strange how consumers use price as an indicator of all sorts of factors, especially when they are in unfamiliar markets. Consumers might practice a decision avoidance approach when buying products in an unfamiliar setting, an example being when buying ice cream. What would you like, an ice cream at $0.75, $1.25 or $2.00? The choice is yours. Maybe you’re entering an entirely new market. Let’s say that you’re buying a lawnmower for the first time and know nothing about garden equipment. Would you automatically by the cheapest? Would you buy the most expensive? Or, would you go for a lawnmower somewhere in the middle? Price therefore may be an indication of quality or benefits in unfamiliar markets.

6. Cost Plus Pricing

Your company has been developing a new printer that will streamline many processes for your small business customers. Your job is to determine the price of the printer. After doing some research, you determine that the best method for pricing the printer is the cost-plus method.

Cost-plus pricing is a straightforward and simple way to arrive at a sales price by adding a markup to the cost of a product. In our example of the printer, you first have to determine the break-even price, which is the sum of all of the expenses involved in creating a product, including expenses like supplies, production costs, and marketing costs. When you pull all of the expenses together to determine the cost of each printer, you determine that each one will cost $78 to produce. If you sold the printer at $78 your company would break even, meaning there would be no profit or loss.

7. Cost-based pricing

Cost-based pricing involves setting prices based on the costs for producing, distributing and selling the product. Also, the company normally adds a fair rate of return to compensate for its efforts and risks. To begin with, let’s look at some famous examples of companies using cost-based pricing. Firms such as Ryanair and Walmart work to become the low-cost producers in their industries. By constantly reducing costs wherever possible, these companies are able to set lower prices. Certainly, that leads to smaller margins, but greater sales and profits on the other hand. But even companies with higher prices may rely on cost-based pricing. However, these companies usually intentionally generate higher costs so that they can claim higher prices and margins.

8. Optional Product Pricing.

Companies will attempt to increase the amount customers spend once they start to buy. Optional ‘extras’ increase the overall price of the product or service. For example airlines will charge for optional extras such as guaranteeing a window seat or reserving a row of seats next to each other. Again budget airlines are prime users of this approach when they charge you extra for additional luggage or extra legroom.

9. Premium Pricing.

Use a high price where there is a unique brand. This approach is used where a substantial competitive advantage exists and the marketer is safe in the knowledge that they can charge a relatively higher price. Such high prices are charged for luxuries such as Cunard Cruises, Savoy Hotel rooms, and first class air travel.

10. Bundle Pricing

The act of placing several products or services together in a single package and selling for a lower price than would be charged if the items were sold separately. The package usually includes one big ticket product and at least one complementary good. Bundled pricing is a marketing method used by retailers to sell products in high supply.


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