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PRICING STRATEGIES

What do the following words have in common? Fare, dues, tuition, interest, rent, and
fee. The answer is that each of these is a term used to describe what one must pay to
acquire benefits from another party. More commonly, most people simply use the word
price to indicate what it costs to acquire a product.
The pricing decision is a critical one for most marketers, yet the amount of attention
given to this key area is often much less than is given to other marketing decisions. One
reason for the lack of attention is that many believe price setting is a mechanical
process requiring the marketer to utilize financial tools, such as spreadsheets, to build
their case for setting price levels. While financial tools are widely used to assist in
setting price, marketers must consider many other factors when arriving at the price for
which their product will sell.
. For some marketers more time is spent agonizing over price than any other marketing
decision. In this tutorial we look at why price is important and what factors influence the
pricing decision.

What is Price?
In general terms price is a component of an exchange or transaction that takes place
between two parties and refers to what must be given up by one party (i.e., buyer) in
order to obtain something offered by another party (i.e., seller). Yet this view of price
provides a somewhat limited explanation of what price means to participants in the
transaction. In fact, price means different things to different participants in an exchange:

Buyers View For those making a purchase, such as final customers, price
refers to what must be given up to obtain benefits. In most cases what is given up
is financial consideration (e.g., money) in exchange for acquiring access to a
good or service. But financial consideration is not always what the buyer gives
up. Sometimes in a barter situation a buyer may acquire a product by giving up
their own product. For instance, two farmers may exchange cattle for crops. Also,
as we will discuss below, buyers may also give up other things to acquire the
benefits of a product that are not direct financial payments (e.g., time to learn to
use the product).

Sellers View - To sellers in a transaction, price reflects the revenue generated for
each product sold and, thus, is an important factor in determining profit. For
marketing organizations price also serves as a marketing tool and is a key
element in marketing promotions. For example, most retailers highlight product
pricing in their advertising campaigns.

Price is commonly confused with the notion of cost as in I paid a high cost for
buying my new plasma television. Technically, though, these are different concepts.
Price is what a buyer pays to acquire products from a seller. Cost concerns the sellers
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investment (e.g., manufacturing expense) in the product being exchanged with a


buyer. For marketing organizations seeking to make a profit the hope is that price will
exceed cost so the organization can see financial gain from the transaction.
Finally, while product pricing is a main topic for discussion when a company is
examining its overall profitability, pricing decisions are not limited to for-profit
companies. Not-for-profit organizations, such as charities, educational institutions and
industry trade groups, also set prices, though it is often not as apparent . For instance,
charities seeking to raise money may set different target levels for donations that
reward donors with increases in status (e.g., name in newsletter), gifts or other
benefits. While a charitable organization may not call it a price in their promotional
material, in reality these donations are equivalent to price setting since donors are
required to give a contribution in order to obtain something of value.

Price vs. Value


For most customers price by itself is not the key factor when a purchase is being
considered. This is because most customers compare the entire marketing offering and do
not simply make their purchase decision based solely on a products price. In essence
when a purchase situation arises price is one of several variables customers evaluate
when they mentally assess a products overall value.
value refers to the perception of benefits received for what someone must give up. Since
price often reflects an important part of what someone gives up, a customers perceived
value of a product will be affected by a marketers pricing decision. Any easy way to see
this is to view value as a calculation:
Value = perceived benefits received
perceived price paid

For the buyer value of a product will change as perceived price paid and/or perceived
benefits received change. But the price paid in a transaction is not only financial it can
also involve other things that a buyer may be giving up. For example, in addition to
paying money a customer may have to spend time learning to use a product, pay to have
an old product removed, close down current operations while a product is installed or
incur other expenses. However, for the purpose of this tutorial we will limit our
discussion to how the marketer sets the financial price of a transaction.

Importance of Pricing
When marketers talk about what they do as part of their responsibilities for marketing
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products, the tasks associated with setting price are often not at the top of the
list. Marketers are much more likely to discuss their activities related to promotion,
product development, market research and other tasks that are viewed as the more
interesting and exciting parts of the job.

Yet pricing decisions can have important consequences for the marketing organization
and the attention given by the marketer to pricing is just as important as the attention
given to more recognizable marketing activities. Some reasons pricing is important
include:

Most Flexible Marketing Mix Variable For marketers price is the most
adjustable of all marketing decisions. Unlike product and distribution decisions,
which can take months or years to change, or some forms of promotion which
can be time consuming to alter (e.g., television advertisement), price can be
changed very rapidly. The flexibility of pricing decisions is particularly important
in times when the marketer seeks to quickly stimulate demand or respond to
competitor price actions. For instance, a marketer can agree to a field
salespersons request to lower price for a potential prospect during a phone
conversation. Likewise a marketer in charge of online operations can raise prices
on hot selling products with the click of a few website buttons.

Setting the Right Price Pricing decisions made hastily without sufficient
research, analysis, and strategic evaluation can lead to the marketing organization
losing revenue. Prices set too low may mean the company is missing out on
additional profits that could be earned if the target market is willing to spend more
to acquire the product. Additionally, attempts to raise an initially low priced
product to a higher price may be met by customer resistance as they may feel the
marketer is attempting to take advantage of their customers. Prices set too high
can also impact revenue as it prevents interested customers from purchasing the
product. Setting the right price level often takes considerable market knowledge
and, especially with new products, testing of different pricing options.

Trigger of First Impressions - Often times customers perception of a product is


formed as soon as they learn the price, such as when a product is first seen when
walking down the aisle of a store. While the final decision to make a purchase
may be based on the value offered by the entire marketing offering (i.e., entire
product), it is possible the customer will not evaluate a marketers product at all
based on price alone. It is important for marketers to know if customers are more
likely to dismiss a product when all they know is its price. If so, pricing may
become the most important of all marketing decisions if it can be shown that
customers are avoiding learning more about the product because of the price.

Important Part of Sales Promotion Many times price adjustments are part of
sales promotions that lower price for a short term to stimulate interest in the
product marketers must guard against the temptation to adjust prices too
frequently since continually increasing and decreasing price can lead customers
to be conditioned to anticipate price reductions and, consequently, withhold
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purchase until the price reduction occurs again.

Factors Affecting Pricing Decision


For the remainder of this tutorial we look at factors that affect how marketers set price.
The final price for a product may be influenced by many factors which can be
categorized into two main groups:

Internal Factors - When setting price, marketers must take into consideration
several factors which are the result of company decisions and actions. To a large
extent these factors are controllable by the company and, if necessary, can be
altered. However, while the organization may have control over these factors
making a quick change is not always realistic. For instance, product pricing may
depend heavily on the productivity of a manufacturing facility (e.g., how much
can be produced within a certain period of time). The marketer knows that
increasing productivity can reduce the cost of producing each product and thus
allow the marketer to potentially lower the products price. But increasing
productivity may require major changes at the manufacturing facility that will
take time (not to mention be costly) and will not translate into lower price
products for a considerable period of time.

External Factors - There are a number of influencing factors which are not
controlled by the company but will impact pricing decisions. Understanding these
factors requires the marketer conduct research to monitor what is happening in
each market the company serves since the effect of these factors can vary by
market.

Below we provide a detailed discussion of both internal and external factors.

Internal Factors
The pricing decision can be affected by factors that are controlled by the
marketing organization. These factors include:

Company and Marketing Objectives


Marketing decisions are guided by the overall objectives of the company. While we will
discuss this in more detail when we cover marketing strategy in a later tutorial, for now it
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is important to understand that all marketing decisions, including price, work to help
achieve company objectives.
Corporate objectives can be wide-ranging and include different objectives for different
functional areas (e.g., objectives for production, human resources, etc). While pricing
decisions are influenced by many types of objectives set up for the marketing functional
area, there are four key objectives in which price plays a central role. In most situations
only one of these objectives will be followed, though the marketer may have different
objectives for different products. The four main marketing objectives affecting price
include:

Return on Investment (ROI) A firm may set as a marketing objective the


requirement that all products attain a certain percentage return on the
organizations spending on marketing the product. This level of return along with
an estimate of sales will help determine appropriate pricing levels needed to meet
the ROI objective.

Cash Flow Firms may seek to set prices at a level that will insure that sales
revenue will at least cover product production and marketing costs. This is most
likely to occur with new products where the organizational objectives allow a new
product to simply meet its expenses while efforts are made to establish the
product in the market. This objective allows the marketer to worry less about
product profitability and instead directs energies to building a market for the
product.

Market Share The pricing decision may be important when the firm has an
objective of gaining a hold in a new market or retaining a certain percent of an
existing market. For new products under this objective the price is set artificially
low in order to capture a sizeable portion of the market and will be increased as
the product becomes more accepted by the target market (we will discuss this
marketing strategy in further detail in our next tutorial). For existing products,
firms may use price decisions to insure they retain market share in instances
where there is a high level of market competition and competitors who are willing
to compete on price.

Maximize Profits Older products that appeal to a market that is no longer


growing may have a company objective requiring the price be set at a level that
optimizes profits. This is often the case when the marketer has little incentive to
introduce improvements to the product (e.g., demand for product is declining) and
will continue to sell the same product at a price premium for as long as some in
the market is willing to buy.

Marketing Strategy
Marketing strategy concerns the decisions marketers make to help the company satisfy its
target market and attain its business and marketing objectives. Price, of course, is one of
the key marketing mix decisions and since all marketing mix decisions must work
together, the final price will be impacted by how other marketing decisions are
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made. For instance, marketers selling high quality products would be expected to price
their products in a range that will add to the perception of the product being at a highlevel.
It should be noted that not all companies view price as a key selling feature. Some firms,
for example those seeking to be viewed as market leaders in product quality, will
deemphasize price and concentrate on a strategy that highlights non-price benefits (e.g.,
quality, durability, service, etc.). Such non-price competition can help the company avoid
potential price wars that often break out between competitive firms that follow a market
share objective and use price as a key selling feature.

Costs
For many for-profit companies, the starting point for setting a products price is to first
determine how much it will cost to get the product to their customers. Obviously,
whatever price customers pay must exceed the cost of producing a good or delivering a
service otherwise the company will lose money.
When analyzing cost, the marketer will consider all costs needed to get the product to
market including those associated with production, marketing, distribution and company
administration (e.g., office expense). These costs can be divided into two main
categories:

Fixed Costs - Also referred to as overhead costs, these represent costs the
marketing organization incurs that are not affected by level of production or sales.
For example, for a manufacturer of writing instruments that has just built a new
production facility, whether they produce one pen or one million they will still
need to pay the monthly mortgage for the building. From the marketing side,
fixed costs may also exist in the form of expenditure for fielding a sales force,
carrying out an advertising campaign and paying a service to host the companys
website. These costs are fixed because there is a level of commitment to spending
that is largely not affected by production or sales levels.

Variable Costs These costs are directly associated with the production and sales
of products and, consequently, may change as the level of production or sales
changes. Typically variable costs are evaluated on a per-unit basis since the cost
is directly associated with individual items. Most variable costs involve costs of
items that are either components of the product (e.g., parts, packaging) or are
directly associated with creating the product (e.g., electricity to run an assembly
line). However, there are also marketing variable costs such as coupons, which
are likely to cost the company more as sales increase (i.e., customers using the
coupon). Variable costs, especially for tangible products, tend to decline as more
units are produced. This is due to the producing companys ability to purchase
product components for lower prices since component suppliers often provide
discounted pricing for large quantity purchases.

Determining individual unit cost can be a complicated process. While variable costs are
often determined on a per-unit basis, applying fixed costs to individual products is less
straightforward. For example, if a company manufactures five different products in one
manufacturing plant how would it distribute the plants fixed costs (e.g., mortgage,
production workers cost) over the five products? In general, a company will assign fixed
cost to individual products if the company can clearly associate the cost with the product,
such as assigning the cost of operating production machines based on how much time it
takes to produce each item. Alternatively, if it is too difficult to associate to specific
products the company may simply divide the total fixed cost by production of each item
and assign it on percentage basis.

External Market Factors


The pricing decision can be affected by factors that are not directly controlled by the
marketing organization. These factors include:

Elasticity of Demand
Marketers should never rest on their marketing decisions. They must continually use
market research and their own judgment to determine whether marketing decisions
need to be adjusted. When it comes to adjusting price, the marketer must understand
what effect a change in price is likely to have on target market demand for a product.
Understanding how price changes impact the market requires the marketer have a firm
understanding of the concept economists call elasticity of demand, which relates to how
purchase quantity changes as prices change. Elasticity is evaluated under the assumption
that no other changes are being made (i.e., all things being equal) and only price is
adjusted. The logic is to see how price by itself will effect overall demand. Obviously,
the chance of nothing else changing in the market but the price of one product is often
unrealistic. For example, competitors may react to the marketers price change by
changing the price on their product. Despite this, elasticity analysis does serve as a
useful tool for estimating market reaction.
Elasticity deals with three types of demand scenarios:
Elastic Demand Products are considered to exist in a market that exhibits
elastic demand when a certain percentage change in price results in a larger and
opposite percentage change in demand. For example, if the price of a product
increases (decreases) by 10%, the demand for the product is likely to decline
(rise) by greater than 10%.

Inelastic Demand Products are considered to exists in an inelastic market when


a certain percentage change in price results in a smaller and opposite percentage
change in demand. For example, if the price of a product increases (decreases) by
10%, the demand for the product is likely to decline (rise) by less than 10%.

Unitary Demand This demand occurs when a percentage change in price results
in an equal and opposite percentage change in demand. For example, if the price
of a product increases (decreases) by 10%, the demand for the product is likely to
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decline (rise) by 10%.


For marketers the important issue with elasticity of demand is to understand how it
impacts company revenue. In general the following scenarios apply to making price
changes for a given type of market demand:
For elastic markets increasing price lowers total revenue while decreasing price
increases total revenue.
For inelastic markets increasing price raises total revenue while decreasing price
lowers total revenue.
For unitary markets there is no change in revenue when price is changed.

Customer and Channel Partner Expectations


Possibly the most obvious external factor that influences price setting are the
expectations of customers and channel partners. As we discussed, when it comes to
making a purchase decision customers assess the overall value of a product much more
than they assess the price. When deciding on a price marketers need to conduct customer
research to determine what price points are acceptable. Pricing beyond these price
points could discourage customers from purchasing.
Firms within the marketers channels of distribution also must be considered when
determining price. Distribution partners expect to receive financial compensation for
their efforts, which usually means they will receive a percentage of the final selling
price. This percentage or margin between what they pay the marketer to acquire the
product and the price they charge their customers must be sufficient for the distributor
to cover their costs and also earn a desired profit.

Competitive and Related Products


Marketers will undoubtedly look to market competitors for indications of how price
should be set. For many marketers of consumer products researching competitive
pricing is relatively easy, particularly when Internet search tools are used. Price analysis
can be somewhat more complicated for products sold to the business market since final
price may be affected by a number of factors including if competitors allow customers to
negotiate their final price.
Analysis of competition will include pricing by direct competitors, related products
and primary products.

Direct Competitor Pricing Almost all marketing decisions, including pricing,


will include an evaluation of competitors offerings. The impact of this
information on the actual setting of price will depend on the competitive nature
of the market. For instance, products that dominate markets and are viewed as
market leaders may not be heavily influenced by competitor pricing since they
are in a commanding position to set prices as they see fit. On the other hand in
markets where a clear leader does not exist, the pricing of competitive products
will be carefully considered. Marketers must not only research competitive
prices but must also pay close attention to how these companies will respond to
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the marketers pricing decisions. For instance, in highly competitive industries,


such as gasoline or airline travel, competitors may respond quickly to
competitors price adjustments thus reducing the effect of such changes.
Related Product Pricing - Products that offer new ways for solving customer
needs may look to pricing of products that customers are currently using even
though these other products may not appear to be direct competitors. For example,
a marketer of a new online golf instruction service that allows customers to access
golf instruction via their computer may look at prices charged by local golf
professionals for in-person instruction to gauge where to set their price. While on
the surface online golf instruction may not be a direct competitor to a
golf instructor, marketers for the online service can use the cost of inperson instruction as a reference point for setting price.
Primary Product Pricing - marketers may sell products viewed as complementary
to a primary product. For example, Bluetooth headsets are considered
complementary to the primary product cellphones. The pricing of complementary
products may be affected by pricing changes made to the primary product since
customers may compare the price for complementary products based on the
primary product price. For example, companies that sell accessory products for
the Apple iPod may do so at a cost that is only 10% of the purchase price of the
iPod. However, if Apple were to dramatically drop the price, for instance by 50%,
the accessory at its present price would now be 20% of the of iPod price. This
may be perceived by the market as a doubling of the accessorys price. To
maintain its perceived value the accessory marketer may need to respond to the
iPod price drop by also lowering the price of the accessory.

Marketers must be aware of regulations that impact how price is set in the markets in
which their products are sold. These regulations are primarily government enacted
meaning that there may be legal ramifications if the rules are not followed. Price
regulations can come from any level of government and vary widely in their
requirements. For instance, in some industries, government regulation may set price
ceilings (how high price may be set) while in other industries there may be price
floors (how low price may be set). Additional areas of potential regulation include:
deceptive pricing, price discrimination, predatory pricing and price fixing.
Finally, when selling beyond their home market, marketers must recognize that local
regulations may make pricing decisions different for each market. This is particularly a
concern when selling to international markets where failure to consider regulations can
lead to severe penalties. Consequently marketers must have a clear understanding of
regulations in each market they serve.
There are also additional legal concerns when it comes to price which we will discuss in
a future tutorial.

Government Regulation
Marketers must be aware of regulations that impact how price is set in the markets in
which their products are sold. These regulations are primarily government enacted
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meaning that there may be legal ramifications if the rules are not followed. Price
regulations can come from any level of government and vary widely in their
requirements. For instance, in some industries, government regulation may set price
ceilings (how high price may be set) while in other industries there may be price
floors (how low price may be set). Additional areas of potential regulation include:
deceptive pricing, price discrimination, predatory pricing and price fixing.
Finally, when selling beyond their home market, marketers must recognize that local
regulations may make pricing decisions different for each market. This is particularly a
concern when selling to international markets where failure to consider regulations can
lead to severe penalties. Consequently marketers must have a clear understanding of
regulations in each market they serve.

Setting Price
The central point of this tutorial is a five-step process for setting price. We want to
emphasize that while the process serves as a useful guide for making price decisions, not
all marketers follow this step-by-step approach. As we will see many marketers may
choose to bypass Steps 3 and 4 altogether. Additionally it is important to understand that
finding the right price is often a trial-and-error exercise where continual testing is
needed.
Like all other marketing decisions, market research is critical to determining the
optimal selling price. Consequently, the process laid out here is intended to open the
marketers eyes to the options to consider when setting price and is in no way presented
as a guide for setting the perfect price.

Steps in the Price Setting Process


We view price setting as a series of decisions the marketer makes in order to determine
the price direct and indirect customers pay to acquire the product. Direct customers are
those who purchase products directly from the marketer. For example, consider the
direct pricing decisions that take place when a new novel is sold:
Publisher of the book must decide at what price they will charge their
immediate customers in the channel of distribution such as online booksellers
(e.g., Amazon.com).
Booksellers must decide at what price they will sell the book to their immediate
customers which are typically final consumers (e.g., website shopper).

As we see with the bookseller example, many companies also sell indirectly to the final
customer through a network of resellers such as retailers. For marketers selling through
resellers the pricing decision is complicated by resellers need to earn a profit and the
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marketers need to have some control over the products price to the final customer. In
these cases setting price involves more than only worrying about what the direct
customer is willing pay since the marketer must also evaluate pricing to indirect
customers (e.g., resellers customers). Clearly sales can be dramatically different than
what the marketer forecasts if the selling price to the final customer differs significantly
from what the marketer expects. For instance, if the marketing organization has
forecasted to sell 1,000,000 novels if the price to the final customer is one price and

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resellers decide to raise the price 25% higher than that price the marketers sales may
be much lower then forecasted.
With an understanding that marketers must consider many factors) when setting price, we
now turn to the process by which price is set. We present this as a five-step
approach. As we noted earlier, while not all marketers follow these steps, what is
presented does cover the methods used by many marketers.
The steps we cover include:
1. Examine Company and Marketing Objectives
2. Determine an Initial Price
3. Set Standard Price Adjustments
4. Determine Promotional Pricing
5. State Ownership and Payment Options

Step 1: Examine Company and Marketing Objectives


As we discussed, marketing decisions including price are driven by the objectives set by
the management of the organization. These objectives come at two levels. First, the
overall objectives of the company guide all decisions for all functional areas (e.g.,
marketing, production, human resources, finance, etc.). Guided by these objectives the
marketing department will set its own objectives which may include return on investment,
cash flow, market share and maximize profits to name a few.
Pricing decisions like all other marketing decisions will be used to help the department
meet its objectives. For instance, if the marketing objective is to build market share it is
likely the marketer will set the product price at a level that is at or below the price of
similar products offered by competitors.
Also, the price setting process looks to whether the decisions made are in line with the
decisions made for the other marketing decisions (i.e., target market, product, distribution,
promotion). Thus, if a company with a strong brand name targets high-end consumers
with a high quality, full-featured product, the pricing decision would follow the marketers
desire to have the product be considered a high-end product. In this case the price would
be set high relative to competitors products that do not offer as many features or do not
have an equally strong brand name.

Step 2: Determine an Initial Price


With the objectives in Step 1 providing guidance for setting price, the marketer next
begins the task of determining an initial price level. We say initial because in many
industries this step involves setting a starting point from which further changes may be
made before the customer pays the final price.

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Sometimes called list price or published price, marketers will often use this as a promotional
or negotiating tool as they move through the other price setting steps. For companies selling
to consumers, this price also leads to a projection of the recommended selling price at the
retail level often called the manufacturers suggested retail price
(MSRP). The MSRP may or may not be the final price for which products are sold. For
strong brands that are highly sought by consumers the MSRP may in fact be the price at
which the product will be sold. But in many other cases, as we will see, the price setting
process results in the price being different based on adjustments made by the marketer
and others in the channel of distributions.

Speaking of distribution channels, some marketers will utilize multiple channel partners
to handle product distribution. When resellers are involved marketers must recognize that
all members of the channel will seek to profit when a sale is made. If a marketer seeks to
sell the product at a certain retail price (e.g., MSRP) then the price charged to the first
channel member to handle the product can potentially influence the final selling price. To
see how this can cause problems, assume a marketer sets an MSRP of (US) $1.99 for a
product that sells through a distribution channel. This channel consists of wholesalers,
who must pay the marketer $1.89 to purchase the product, and retailers who in turn buy
the product from wholesalers. In this example it is unlikely the retailer will sell the
product at the MSRP since the wholesaler will add to the $1.89 purchase price and most
likely raise the price charged to the retailer to a point that is higher than the MSRP. The
retailer in turn will add to their purchase price when selling to
consumers. In this scenario it is possible the final price to the consumer will be closer to
$2.99 than the $1.99 MSRP. As this example shows marketers must take care in setting
the initial price so that all channel partners feel it is worth their effort to handle the
product.
Marketers have at their disposal several approaches for setting the initial price
which include:

Cost Pricing
Market Pricing
Competitive Pricing
Bid Pricing

Cost Pricing
Under cost pricing the marketer primarily looks at production costs as the key factor
in determining the initial price. This method offers the advantage of being easy to
implement as long as costs are known. But one major disadvantage is that it does not
take into consideration the target markets demand for the product. This could present
major problems if the product is operating in a highly competitive market where
competitors frequently alter their prices.
There are several types of cost pricing including:

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Markup Pricing
This pricing method, often utilized by resellers who acquire products from suppliers, uses
a percentage increase on top of product cost to arrive at an initial price. A major general
retailer, such as Walmart, may apply a set percentage for each product category (e.g.,
womens clothing, automotive, garden supplies, etc.) making the pricing consistent for all
like-products. Alternatively, the predetermined percentage may be a number that is
identified with the marketing objectives (e.g., required 20% ROI).
For resellers that purchase thousands of products (e.g., retailers) the simplicity inherent in
markup pricing makes it a more attractive pricing option than more time-consuming
methods. However, the advantage of ease of use is sometimes offset by the disadvantage
that products may not always be optimally priced resulting in products that are priced too
high or too low given the demand for the product.
Resellers differ in how they use markup pricing with some using the Markup-on-Cost
method and others using the Markup-on-Selling-Price method. We will demonstrate each
using an item that costs a reseller (US) $50 to purchase from a supplier and sells to
customers for (US) $65.

Markup-on-Cost Using this method, markup is reflected as a percentage by


which initial price is set above product cost as reflected in this formula:
Markup Amount = Markup Percentage
Item Cost
$15 = 30%
$50
The calculation for setting initial price is determined by simply multiplying the
cost of each item by a predetermined percentage then adding the result to the cost:
Item Cost + (Item Cost x Markup Percentage) = Price
$50 + (50 x .30 = $15) = $65

Markup-on-Selling-Price Many resellers, and in particular retailers, discuss


their markup not in terms of Markup-on-Cost but as a reflection of price. That is,
the markup is viewed as a percentage of the selling price and not as a percentage
of cost as it is with the Markup-on-Cost method. For example, using the same
information as was used in the markup on cost, the markup on selling price
reflected in this formula:

Markup Amount = Markup Percentage


Selling Price

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$15 = 23%
$65
The calculation for setting initial price using Markup-on-Selling-Price is:
Item Cost
= Price
(1.00 Markup Percentage)
$50
= $65
(1.00 .23)
So why do some use Markup-on-Cost while others use Markup-on-Selling-Price? One
answer is that it is a traditional way for resellers in certain industries to discuss how they
arrive at price (e.g., We only make 5% of the price of the product.). But many feel the
reason is that
Markup-on-Selling-Price serves as an aid to company promotion because the amount of
money a reseller makes is in percentage terms always lower when calculated using
Markup-on-Selling-Price than it is with Markup-on-Cost. For example, in the Markupon-Cost example where the markup is 30% the gross profit is $15 ($65-$50). If the
reseller using Markup-on-Selling-Price received a gross profit of $15 their markup would
only be 23% ($50/[1.00-.23] = $65). Consequently, a retailers advertisement may say:
We Make Little, But Our Customers Save A Lot and back this up by saying they only
make a small percentage on each sale. When in reality how much they really make in
monetary terms may be equal to another retailer who uses Markup-on-Cost and reports a
higher markup percentage. Cost-Plus Pricing
In the same way markup pricing arrives at price by adding a certain percentage to the
products cost, cost-plus pricing also adds to the cost by using a fixed monetary amount
rather than percentage. For instance, a contractor hired to renovate a homeowners
bathroom will estimate the cost of doing the job by adding their total labor cost to the
cost of the materials used in the renovation. The homeowners selection of ceramic tile to
be used in the bathroom is likely to have little effect on the labor needed to install it
whether it is a low-end, low priced tile or a high-end, premium priced tile. Assuming
most material in the bathroom project are standard sizes and configuration, any change in
the total price for the renovation is a result of changes in material costs while labor costs
are constant.

Breakeven Pricing
Breakeven pricing is associated with breakeven analysis, which is a forecasting tool used by
marketers to determine how many products must be sold before the company starts
realizing a profit. Like the markup method, breakeven pricing does not directly consider
market demand when determining price, however it does indicate the minimum level of
demand that is needed before a product will show a profit. From this the marketer can
then assess whether the product can realistically achieve these levels.

The formula for determining breakeven takes into consideration both variable and fixed
costs as well as price, and is calculated as follows:
Fixed Cost
= # of Units to Breakeven
Price Variable Cost Per Unit
For example, assume a company operates a single-product manufacturing plant that has a
total fixed cost (e.g., purchase of equipment, mortgage, etc.) per year of (US) $3,000,000
and the variable cost (e.g., raw materials, labor, electricity, etc.) is $45.00 per unit. If the
company sells the product directly to customers for $120, it will require the company to
sell 40,000 units to breakeven.
$3,000,000 = 40,000 units
$120 - $45
Again we must emphasize that marketers must determine whether the demand (i.e.,
number of units needed to breakeven) is realistically attainable. Simply plugging in a
number for price without knowing how the market will respond to that figure means that
this method has little value. (Note: A common mistake when performing this analysis is
to report the breakeven in a monetary value such a breakeven in dollars (e.g.,
$40,000). The calculation presented above is a measure of units that need to be
sold. Clearly it is easy to turn this into a revenue breakeven analysis by multiplying the
units needed by the selling price. In our example, 40,000 units x $120 = $4,800,000.)

Market Pricing
Under the market pricing method cost is not the main factor driving price decisions;
rather initial price is based on analysis of market research in which customer expectations
are measured. The main goal is to learn what customers in an organizations target market
are likely to perceive as an acceptable price. Of course this price should also help the
organization meet its marketing objectives.
Market pricing is one of the most common methods for setting price, and the one that
seems most logical given marketings focus on satisfying customers. So if this is the most
logical approach why dont all companies follow it? The main reason is that using the
market pricing approach requires a strong market research effort to measure customer
reaction. For many marketers it is not feasible to spend the time and money it takes to do

this right. Additionally for some products, especially new high-tech products, customers
are not always knowledgeable about the product to know what an acceptable price level
should be. Consequently, some marketers may forego market pricing in favor of other
approaches.
For those marketers who use market pricing, options include:
1.
2.
3.

Backward Pricing
Psychological Pricing
Price Lining

Backward Pricing
In some marketing organizations the price the market is willing to pay for a product is an
important determinant of many other marketing decisions. This is likely to occur when
the market has a clear perception of what it believes is an acceptable level of pricing. For
example, customers may question a product that carries a price tag that is double that of
a competitors offerings but is perceived to offer only minor improvements compared to
other products. In these markets it is important to undertake research to learn whether
customers have mentally established a price range or reference price for products in a
certain product category. The marketer can learn this by surveying customers with such
questions as: How much do you think these types of products should cost you?
In situations where a price range is ingrained in the market, the marketer may need to use
this price as the starting point for many decisions and work backwards to develop
product, promotion and distribution plans. For instance, assume a company sells products
through retailers. If the market is willing to pay (US)$199 for a product but is resistant to
pricing that is higher, the marketer will work backwards factoring out the profit margin
retailers are likely to want (e.g., $40) and as well as removing the marketers profit (e.g.,
$70). From this, the product cost will remain ($199 -$40-$70= $89). The marketer must
then decide whether they can create a product with sufficient features and benefits to
satisfy customers needs at this cost level.

Psychological Pricing
For many years researchers have investigated customers response to product
pricing. Some of the results point to several interesting psychological effects price may
have on customers buying behavior and on their perception of individual products. We
stress that certain pricing tactics may have a psychological effect since the results of
some studies have suggested otherwise. But enough studies have shown an effect that
this topic is worthy of discussion.

Odd-Even Pricing - One effect dubbed odd-even pricing relates to whole


number pricing where customers may perceive a significant difference in product
price when pricing is slightly below a whole number value. For example, a
product priced at (US) $299.95 may be perceived as offering more value than a
product priced at $300.00. This effect can also be used to influence potential
customers who receive product information from others. Many times a buyer

will pass along the price as being lower than it is either because they recall it
being lower than the even number or they want to impress others with their
success in obtaining a good value. For instance, in our example a buyer who
pays $299.95 may tell a friend they paid a little more than $200 for the product
when in fact it was much closer to $300.
Prestige Pricing - Another psychological effect, called prestige pricing, points to a
strong correlation between perceived product quality and price. The higher the
price the more likely customers are to perceive it has being higher quality
compared to a lower priced product. (Although there is point at which customers
will begin to question the value of the product if the price is too high.) In fact, the
less a customer knows about a product the more likely they are to judge the
product as being of higher quality based on only knowing the price. Prestige
pricing can also work with odd-even pricing as marketers, looking to present an
image of high quality, may choose to price products at even levels (e.g., $10
rather than $9.99).

Price Lining
The difference in the needs-set between customers often leads marketers to realization
that the overall market is really made up of a collection smaller market segments. These
segments may seek similar products but with different sets of product features, which are
presented in the form of different models (e.g., different quality of basketball sneakers) or
service options (e.g., different hotel room options).
Price lining or product line pricing is a method that primarily uses price to create the
separation between the different models. With this approach, even if customers possess
little knowledge about a set of products, customers may perceive they are different based
on price alone. The key is whether the prices for all products in the group are perceived
as representing distinct price points (i.e., enough separation between each). For instance,
a marketer may sell a base model, an upgraded model and a deluxe model each at a
different price. If the differences in features for each model is not readily apparent to a
customer, such as differences that are inside the product and not easily viewed (e.g.,
difference between laptop computers), then price lining will help the customer recognize
that differences do exist as long as the prices are noticeably different.
Price lining can also be effective as a method for increasing profitability. In many cases
the cost to the marketer for adding different features to create different models or service
options does not alone justify a big price difference. For instance, an upgraded model
may cost 10% more to produce than a base model but using the price lining method the
upgraded product price may be 20% higher and thus more profitable than the base
model. The increase in profitability offered by price lining is one reason marketers
introduce multiple models, since it allows the company to not only satisfy the needs of
different segments but also presents an option for a customer to buy up to a

Competitive Pricing

how competitors price their products can influence the marketers pricing
decision. Clearly when setting price it makes sense to look at the price of competitive
offerings. For some, competitors price serves as an important reference point from

which they set their price. In some industries, particularly those in which there are a few
dominant competitors and many small companies, the top companies are in the position
of holding price leadership roles where they are often the first in the industry to change
price. Smaller companies must then assume a price follower role and react once the big
companies adjust their price.
When basing pricing decisions on how competitors are setting their price, firms may
follow one of the following approaches:
Below Competition Pricing - A marketer attempting to reach objectives that
require high sales levels (e.g., market share objective) may monitor the market
to insure their price remains below competitors.
2. Above Competition Pricing - Marketers using this approach are likely to be
perceived as market leaders in terms of product features, brand image or other
characteristics that support a price that is higher than what competitors offer.
3. Parity Pricing - A simple method for setting the initial price is to price the product
at the same level competitors price their product.
1.

Bid Pricing
Not all selling situations allow the marketer to have advanced knowledge of the prices
offered by competitors. While the Internet has made researching competitor pricing a
relatively routine exercise, this is not the case in markets where bid pricing occurs. Bid
pricing typically requires a marketer to submit a price to a potential buyer that is sealed or
unseen by competitors. It is not until all bids are obtained and unsealed that the marketer
is informed of the price listed by competitors.
Bid pricing occurs in several industries though it is a standard requirement when selling
to local, national and international governments. In these situations the marketers pricing
strategy depends on the projected winning bid price, which is generally the lowest price.
However, price alone is only the deciding factor if the bidder meets certain qualifications.
The fact that marketers often operate in the dark in terms of available competitor
research, makes this type pricing one of the most challenging of all pricing setting
methods.

Step 3: Set Standard Price Adjustments


With the first round of pricing decisions now complete, the marketers next step is to
consider whether there are benefits to making adjustments to the list or published
price. For our purposes we will consider two levels of price adjustments standard and
promotional. The first level adjustments are those we label as standard since these are

consistently part of the marketers pricing program and not adjustments that appear only
occasionally as part of special promotions (see Step 4: Determine Promotional Pricing).
In most cases standard adjustments are made to reduce the list price in an effort to either
stimulate interest in the product or to indirectly pay channel partners for the services they
offer when handling the product. In some circumstances the adjustment goes the other
way and leads to price increases in order cover additional costs incurred when selling to
different markets.
It should be noted that many companies do not make adjustments to their list price,
particularly those selling directly to final customers. There are two key reasons for this.
First, the product is in high demand and therefore the marketer sees little reason to
lower the price. Second, the marketer believes the product holds sufficient value for
customers at its current list price and the marketer feels reducing the price may actually
lead buyers to question the quality of the product (e.g., How can they offer all those
features for such a low price? Something must be wrong with it.). In such cases
holding fast to the list price allows the marketer to maintain some control over the
products perceived image.
For firms that do make standard price adjustments, options include:

Quantity Discounts
Trade Allowances
Special Segment Pricing
Geographic Pricing

Quantity Discounts
This adjustment offers buyers an incentive of lower per-unit pricing as more products are
purchased. Most quantity or volume discounts are triggered when a buyer reaches certain
purchase levels. For instance, a buyer may pay the list price when they purchase between
1-99 units but receive a 5% discount off the list price when the purchase exceeds 100
units.
Options for offering price adjustments based on quantity ordered include:

Discounts at Time of Purchase The most common quantity discounts exist when a
buyer places an order that exceeds a certain minimum level. While quantity discounts
are used by marketers to stimulate higher purchase levels, the rational for using these
often rests in the cost of product shipment. Shipping costs tend to decrease per item
shipped. Why? Think about a large truck carrying product. In most cases the
expenses (e.g., truck driver expense, fuel, road tolls, etc.) required to move a truck
from one point to another does not radically change as more product is shipped in the
truck trailer (i.e., container). In other words, the total shipping cost is only a little
higher if 1,000 items (assuming all can fit in a trailer) are carried in the truck
compared to hauling just 10 items. Consequently, the

transportation cost per item drops as more are ordered thus allowing the
supplier to offer lower prices for higher quantity.
Discounts on Cumulative Purchases This method allows the buyer to receive a
discount as more products are purchased over time. For instance, if a buyer regularly
purchases from a supplier they may see a discount once the buyer has reached
predetermined monetary or quantity levels. The key reason to use this adjustment is
to create an incentive for buyers to remain loyal and purchase again.

Trade Allowances
Manufacturers who rely on channel partners to distribute their products (e.g.,
retailers, wholesalers) offer discounts off of list price called trade allowances. These
discounts function as an indirect form of payment for a channel members work in
helping to market the product (e.g., keep product stocked, talk to customers about the
product, provide feedback to the manufacturer, etc.).
Essentially the difference between the trade discounted price paid by the reseller and the
price the reseller charges its customer will be the resellers profit. For example, lets
assume the maker of snack products sells a product to retailers that carries a stated
MSRP of (US) $2.95 but offers resellers a trade allowance price of $1.95. If the retailer
indeed sells the product for the MSRP, the retailer will realize a 33% markup on selling
price ($1.95/(1-.33) = $2.95). Obviously this percentage will be different if the retailer
sells the product at a price that is different than the MSRP, but the important point to
understand is that marketers must factor in what resellers expect to earn when they are
setting trade discounts. This Special Segment Pricing
In some industries special classes of customers within a target market are offered pricing
that differs from the rest of the market. The main reasons for doing this include: building
future demand by appealing to new or younger customers; improving the brands image
as being sensitive to customers needs; and rewarding long time customers with price
breaks.
For instance, many companies including movie theaters, fitness facilities and
pharmaceutical firms offer lower prices to senior citizens. Some marketers offer nonprofit customers lower prices compared to that charged to for-profit firms. Other
industries may offer lower prices to students or children.
Another example used by service firms is to offer pricing differences based on
convenience and comfort enjoyed by customers when experiencing the service such
as seat location at a sporting or entertainment event.

Geographic Pricing
Products requiring marketers to pay higher costs that are affected by geographic area
in which a product is sold may result in adjustments to compensate for the higher
expense. The most likely cause for charging a different price rests with the cost of
transporting a product from the suppliers distribution location to the buyers place of
business. If the supplier is incurring all costs for shipping then they may charge a higher
price for products in order to cover the extra transportation costs. For instance, shipping
products by air to Hawaii may cost a Los Angeles, California manufacturer a much
higher transportation cost than a shipment made to San Diego.
Transportation expense is not the only cost that may raise a products price. Special taxes
or tariffs may be imposed on certain products by local, regional or international
governments which a seller passes along in the form of higher prices.
amount needs to be sufficient to entice the reseller to agree to handle and possibly
promote the product.

Step 4: Determine Promotional Pricing


The final price may be further adjusted through promotional pricing. Unlike standard
adjustments, which are often permanently part of a marketers pricing strategy and may
include either a decrease or increase in price, promotional pricing is a temporary
adjustment that only involves price reductions. In most cases this means the marketer is
selling the product at levels that significantly reduce the profit they make per unit sold.
As one would expect, the main objective of promotional pricing is to stimulate product
demand. But, marketers should be careful not to overuse promotional programs that
temporarily reduce selling price. If promotional pricing is used too frequently customers
may become conditioned to anticipate the reduction. This results in buyers withholding
purchases until the product is again offered at a lower price. Since promotional pricing
often means the marketing organization is making very little profit off of each item sold,
consistently selling at a low price could jeopardize the companys ability to meet their
financial objectives.
The options for promotional pricing include:

Markdowns
Loss Leaders
Sales Promotions
Bundle Pricing
Dynamic Pricing

Markdowns
The most common method for stimulating customer interest using price is the
promotional markdown method, which offers the product at a price that is lower than the
products normal selling price. There are several types of markdowns including:
Temporary Markdown Possibly the most familiar pricing method marketers use
to generate sales is to offer a temporary markdown or sale pricing. These
markdowns are normally for a specified period of time the conclusion of which
will result in the product being raised back to the normal selling price.
Permanent Markdown Unlike the temporary markdown where the price will
eventually be raised back to a higher price, the permanent markdown is intended
to move the product out of inventory. This type of markdown is used to remove
old products that: are perishable and close to being out of date (e.g., donuts); are
an older model and must be sold to make room for new models; or are products
that the marketer no longer wishes to sell.
Seasonal Products that are primarily sold during a particular time of the year,
such as clothing, gardening products, sporting goods and holiday-specific
items, may see price reductions at the conclusion of its prime selling season.

Loss Leaders
An important type of pricing program used primarily by retailers is the loss
leader. Under this method a product is intentionally sold at or below the cost the retailer
pays to acquire the product from suppliers. The idea is that offering such a low price will
entice a high level of customer traffic to visit a retailers store or website. The
expectation is that customers will easily make up for the profit lost on the loss leader
item by purchasing other items that are not following loss leader pricing. For instance, a
convenience store may advertise a very low price for cups of coffee in order to generate
traffic to the store with the hope that customers will purchase regularly priced products to
go along with the coffee purchase.
Marketers should beware that some governmental agencies view loss leaders as a form
of predatory pricing and thus consider it illegal. Predatory pricing occurs when an
organization is deliberately selling products at or below cost with the intention of driving
competitors out of business. Of course, this differs from our discussion which considers
loss leader pricing as a form of promotion and not a form of anti-competitor activity. In
the U.S. several state governments have passed laws under the heading Unfair Sales Act,
which prohibits the selling of certain products below cost. The main intention of these
laws is to protect small firms from below-cost pricing activities of larger
companies. Some states place this restriction on specific product categories (e.g.,
gasoline, tobacco) but Oklahoma places this restriction on most products and goes as far
as requiring the pricing of products be at least 6% above cost.

Sales Promotions
marketers may offer several types of pricing promotions to simulate demand. While we
have already discussed sale pricing as a technique to build customer interest, there are
several other sales promotions that are designed to lower price. These include rebates,
coupons, trade-in, and loyalty programs.

Bundle Pricing
Another pricing adjustment designed to increase sales is to offer discounted pricing when
customers purchase several different products at the same time. Termed bundle pricing,
the technique is often used to sell products that are complementary to a main
product. For buyers, the overall cost of the purchase shows a savings compared to
purchasing each product individually. For example, a camera retailer may offer a
discounted price when customers purchase both a digital camera and a how-to
photography DVD that is lower than if both items were purchased separately. In this
example the retailer may promote this as: Buy both the digital camera and the howto photography DVD and save 25%.
Bundle pricing is also used by marketers as a technique that avoids making price
adjustments on a main product for fear that doing so could affect the products perceived
quality level (see our discussion above under Step 3: Set Standard Price
Adjustments). Rather, the marketer may choose to offer adjustments on other related or
complementary products. In our example the message changes to: Buy the digital
camera and you can get the how-to photography DVD for 50% less. With this approach
the marketer is presenting a price adjustment without the perception of it lowering the
price of the main product.

Dynamic Pricing
The concept of dynamic pricing has received a great deal of attention in recent years due
to its prevalent use by Internet retailers. But the basic idea of dynamic pricing has been
around since the dawn commerce. Essentially dynamic pricing allows for the point-ofsale (i.e., at the time and place of purchase) price adjustments to take place for customers
meeting certain criteria established by the seller. The most common and oldest form of
dynamic pricing is haggling; the give-and-take that takes place between buyer and seller
as they settle on a price. While the word haggling may conjure up visions of transactions
taking place among vendors and customers in a street market, the concept is widely used
in business markets as well where it carries the more reserved label of negotiated pricing.
Advances in computer hardware and software present a new dimension for the use of
dynamic pricing. Unlike haggling, where the seller makes price adjustments based on a
person-to-person discussion with a buyer, dynamic pricing uses sophisticated computer
technology to adjust price. It achieves this by combining customer data (e.g., who they
are, how they buy) with pre-programmed price offerings that are aimed at customers
meeting certain criteria. For example, dynamic pricing is used in retail stores where

customers use of loyalty cards triggers the stores computer to access customer
information. If customers characteristics match requirements in the software program
they may be offered a special deal such as 10% off if they also purchase another
product. Dynamic pricing is also widely used in airline ticket purchasing where type of
customer (e.g., business vs. leisure traveler) and date of purchase can affect pricing.
On the Internet, marketers may use dynamic pricing to entice first time visitors to make a
purchase by offering a one-time discount. This is accomplished by comparing information
stored in the marketers computer database with identifier information gathered as the
person is visiting a website. One way this is done is for a website to leave small data files
called cookies on a visitors computer when they first access the marketers website. A
cookie can reside on the visitors computer for some time and allows the marketer to
monitor the users behavior on the site such as how often they visit, how long they spend
on the site, what webpages they access and much more. The marketer can then program
special software, often called campaign management software, to send visitors a special
offer such as a discount. For instance, the marketer may have a discount offered if the
visitor has come to the site at least five times in the last six months but has never
purchased.

Step 5: State Ownership and Payment Options


With the price decided, the final step for the marketer is to determine in what form and in
what timeframe customers will make payment. As one would expect payment is most
often in a monetary form though in certain situations the payment may be part of a barter
arrangement in which products or services are exchanged.

Form of Payment
The monetary payment decision can be a complex one. First marketers must decide in
what form payments will be accepted. These options include cash; check, money orders,
credit card, online payment systems (e.g., PayPal) or, for international purchases, bank
drafts, letters of credit, and international reply coupons, to name a few.

Timeframe of Payment
One final pricing decision considers when payment will be made. Many marketers find
promotional value in offering options to customers for the date when payment is
due. Such options include:
Immediate Payment in Full Requires the customer make full payment at the
time the product is acquired.
Immediate Partial Payment Requires the customer make a certain amount or
percentage of payment at the time the product is acquired. This may be in the
form of a down payment. Subsequent payments occur either in one lump sum or
at agreed intervals (e.g., once per month) through an installment plan.

Future Payment Provides the buyer with the opportunity to acquire use of the product with payment
occurring some time in the future. Future payment may require either payment in fuOther
Considerations
marketers must consider many factors when making a pricing decision. We conclude our discussion of
pricing by suggesting several other issues that can impact how price is
set. These include:

Ownership Options
Early Payment Incentives
Currency Considerations
Auction Pricing

Ownership Options
An important decision faced by marketers as they are formulating their marketing strategy deals with
who will have ownership of the product (i.e., holds legal title) once an exchange has taken place. The
options available include:
Buyer Owns Product Outright The most common ownership option is for the buyer to
make payment and then obtain full ownership.
Buyer Has Right to Use but Does Not Have Ownership Many products, especially those
labeled as services, permit customers to make payment in exchange for the right to use a
product but not to own it. This is seen in the form of usage, rental or lease payment for such
goods and services as: mobile phone services, manufacturing equipment and Internet access. It
should be noted that under some lease or rental plans there may be an option for customers to
buy the product outright (e.g., car lease) though this often requires a final payment.
Early Payment Incentives
For many years marketers operating primarily in the business market offered incentives to encourage
their customers to pay early. Typically, business customers are given a certain period of time, normally
30 or 60 days, before payment is due. To encourage customers to pay earlier, and thus allow the seller
to obtain the money quicker, marketers have offered early payment discounts often referred to as cash
terms. This discount is expressed in a form that indicates how much discount is being offered and in
what timeframe. For example, the cash terms 2/10 net 30 indicates that if the buyer makes payment
within 10 days of the date of the bill then they can take a 2% discount off some or all of the items on
the invoice, otherwise the full amount is due in 30 days.
While this incentive remains widely used, its effectiveness in getting customers to pay early has
greatly diminished. Instead, many customers, especially large volume buyers
simply remove the discount from the bills total and then pay within the required net timeframe (or
later!). For this reason many companies are discontinuing offering this discount.

26

Other Considerations
marketers must consider many factors when making a pricing decision. We conclude our discussion of
pricing by suggesting several other issues that can impact how price is
set. These include:

Ownership Options
Early Payment Incentives
Currency Considerations
Auction Pricing

Auction Pricing
One pricing approach that does not fit neatly into the price setting process weve described is the
auction pricing model. Auction pricing is the reverse of bid pricing, which we discussed earlier,
since it is the buyer who in large part sets the final
price. This pricing method has been around for hundreds of years, but today it is most well known for
its use in the auction marketplace business models such as eBay and business-to-business marketplaces.
While marketers selling through auctions do not have control over final price, it is possible to control
the minimum price by establishing a price floor or reserve price. In this way the product is only sold if
someones bid is at least equal to the floor price.

Currency Considerations
Product pricing can be dramatically altered by international monetary exchange rates. A company that
desires to be a low-price market leader may find this strategy works in their home market but currency
differences may move their products price to a mid-price level in other countries. This could
dramatically impact the perceived value of the product by customers in these markets. Any marketer
selling internationally must be very aware of the price their product takes on in foreign countries once
the price has been converted into the local currency.

27

Pricing strategies in the Product Life Cycle (PLC)


As we have already seen the competitive situation for a product changes throughout the life cycle
of a product. Each different phase in the cycle may require a different strategy. Pricing plays a
particularly important role in this respect. We now discuss some of the ways in which price may be
used at various stages of the product life cycle. Once again, it should be noted that considerable care
should be used in interpreting the possible strategic implications of each of the life cycle stages.

Pricing in the introductory stage of the life cycle


With an innovatory product its developers can expect to have a competitive edge, at least for a
period of time. With innovatory new products, a company can elect to choose between two extreme
pricing strategies (Lancaster and Massingham, 2001)

Price skimming: introducing new products at a high price level

Price penetration: Introducing new products at a low price level

28

1.

Price skimming
The setting of a high initial price can be interpreted as an assumption by management that eventually
competition will enter the market and erode
profit margins. The company therefore sets the high price so as to milk the market and achieve the
maximum profits available in the shortest period of time. This market skimming strategy involves
the company estimating the highest price the customer is willing or able to pay, which will involve
assessing the benefits of the product to the potential customer. This strategy has in the past been
successfully carried out by firms marketing innovative products with substantial consumer benefits.
After the initial introduction stage of the product the company will tend to lower the price of the
products so as to draw in the more price conscious customers. When a company adopts this kind of
strategy the following variables are usually present:

The demand for the product is high

The high price will not attract early competition

The high price gives the impression to the buyer of purchasing a high quality product from a
superior firm.

2.

Price penetration
The setting of a low price strategy or market penetration strategy is carried out by companies
whose prime objective is to capture a large market share in the quickest time period possible.
The conditions which usually prevail for penetrating pricing to be effective include:

The demand for the product is price sensitive

A low price will tend to discourage competitors from entering the market

Potential economies of scale and/or significant experience curve effects

29

International pricing
Geographic pricing becomes an issue when the company serves geographically distant markets,
and transportation constitutes an important component of transaction costs. Depending on the
competitive conditions in those markets and on the threat of entry, it may be more profitable to
charge uniform standardized prices in all markets or locally adapted prices.
Price setting within individual country markets is driven by the typical corporate issues and
objectives. Also, the major problem areas in international pricing have been meeting local competition,
cost, lack of competitive information, distribution and channel factors, and government barriers.
Multinationals tend to make pricing decisions close to each market's prevailing conditions, but
the relationship is symbiotic: Coordination and strategic direction come from headquarters, yet shortterm pricing decisions are made locally.
Price escalation. In preparing a quotation, the international marketer must be careful to
include unique export-related costs as well as normal costs shared with the domestic side of the
business, such as:

30

The cost of modifying the product for foreign markets.


Operational costs of the export operation (e.g. subsidiary costs): personnel, market research,
additional shipping and insurance costs, communications costs with foreign customers, and
overseas promotional costs.
Foreign market entry costs: tariffs and taxes; commercial credit and political risks associated with a
buyer in a different market; and foreign exchange risks.
The combined effect of clear-cut and hidden costs causes export prices to accelerate.
Price escalation can result in different-sized price increases across markets. Customers who shop
around for lower prices or distributors unhappy about their margins in certain markets might force a
marketer to abandon a market altogether. International marketers combat price escalation through
accurate information and creative strategies such as the following methods, which emphasize cutting
costs:

Reorganize the channel of distribution: Eliminate some distribution levels. But, shortening the
value chain might incur other new costs such as new intermediaries' demands for better
discounts.

Adapt the product. Use less expensive ingredients or unbundle costly features. Remaining features,
such as packaging, can also be cheapened. If price escalation causes differentials between markets
that customers might discover, alter the product by changing styling and packaging, for example.
Emphasize nonprice benefits: Quality, after-Sales service, warranties, etc. (not necessarily price
concessions), can add to the value the customer receives, or at least perceives, from your offer.

Assemble or produce the product overseas: Through foreign sourcing, the exporter may receive
an additional benefit to lower cost: duty draw backs.

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Transfer pricing
Transfer (intra-corporate) pricing is the pricing of sales to members of the multinational corporate
family. With rapid globalization and consolidation across borders, estimates have up to two-thirds of
world trade taking place between related parties, including shipments and transfers from parent
company to affiliates as well as trade between alliance partners. Transfer pricing must be managed in a
world of varying different tax rates, foreign exchange rates, governmental regulations, and other
economic and social challenges. Allocating resources among multinational units requires central
management to achieve these objectives:
Competitiveness in the international marketplace;
Reduction of taxes and tariffs;
Management of cash flows;
Minimization of foreign exchange risks;
Avoidance of conflicts with home and host governments; and
Internal concerns, such as goal congruence and motivation of subsidiary managers.

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CASE STUDY

Tata DoCoMos Pricing


Strategy

Disruptive Innovation in the Indian Telecom Industry by


Tata DoCoMo
Wikipedia defines disruptive innovation as an innovation that improves a product
or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by being lower priced
or designed for a different set of consumers.
Indian Telecom space was disrupted by Tata DoCoMo when they came out with a
1 paisa per second tariff.
Weve earlier seen how Reliance India Mobile changed the mobile industry by
coming up with the lowest tariff in the beginning of this decade. The call charges
were around Rs 2-3 per minute and because of Reliance this was brought down to
around Re 1 per minute.
Tata DoCoMo was the next one to employ disruptive innovation in the Indian
mobile industry. Currently the game is not played on the price front but Value
added services front, which is evident from the advertisements of Airtel
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(Madhavan and Vidya Balan) and Vodafone (Zoozoos) in the past.


If Aircel is redefining how telecom operators approach value added services and
GPRS in India, Tata DoCoMo is doing its bit to change billing practices.
The joint venture between Tata Teleservices and Japanese telecom major NTT
DoCoMo officially began rollouts with a plan to invest $2 billion for its pan-India
GSM services.

Pricing Differentiationits been tried before!

Tata DoCoMo appears to be banking heavily on its tariff plans the company
offers a 1 second pulse instead of the usual 1 minute pulse that other telecom
operators were offering. This means that consumers are charged on a per second
basis, instead of a per minute basis, and end up saving money on unused
seconds. A nifty little application
How much can you really save on DoCoMos website explains how this
works. Rs. 0.01/second is a marked change from the Re 1/min and Rs. 0.49/min
charges that usually apply.
Now while this plan might sound unique, it isnt that it hasnt been tried before:
back in 2004, Tata Indicom had launched 1 second pulse plans, which going by
their current plans, appears to have been shelved.
At present, Tata DoCoMo has launched voice portals, 24-hour music, cricket
commentary and voice chat, apart from offering free Missed Call Alerts and
VoiceMail.
Interestingly, voice based services are also being priced with a per-second-pulse:
24 hour music and voice chat are priced at Rs. 0.02/second. Caller Tune search
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service
Genie is also being priced at Rs. 0.02/second. This is a marked change, again,
from the per minute pricing, and can offer consumers cheaper options.

An initiative that has taken the service provider industry by


storm
The pay per second model has really paid off well for the latest entrant in the
Indian GSM space, Tata-DoCoMo. The new pricing strategy from Tata-DoCoMo has
changed the rules of the GSM game, which is dominated by AirTel and Vodafone.
Tata-DoCoMo also launched its first mobile handset in September 2010.

Mobile pricing innovation Tata DoCoMo now charges per


website for Mobile Browsing!
This is surely a first world over Tata DoCoMo have gone ahead and launched an
innovative mobile Internet offering which allows users unlimited usage of their
favourite websites on mobile for a fixed cost.
Tata DoCoMo has been forefront in coming up with various attractive pricing
schemes, especially, in the pay-per-use paradigm. They were first to introduce
pay per second billing on calls, which now is followed by every mobile service
provider. They followed it with pay-per-minute and pay-per-call pricing plans as
well which has made them one of the fastest growing Mobile companies in India.
The new pay-per-website offering however, takes it to a complete different level
and unheard of pricing strategy. This is a very thoughtful strategy and something
which has potential to growth rapidly. Pay Per Site offers two combination packs

Those only interested in single websites need to pay Rs 10 per site

Those with multiple site browsing needs can opt for a combo pack at just Rs
25 per month.

Customers have a bundle of options within various categories of social networking


sites (Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Orkut), mail options (Gmail, Yahoo, Rediff) and
chat messengers (GTalk, Yahoo! Messenger, Nimbuzz).
Having said this, there is also a caveat If you thought it was valid for unlimited
useit is not.
Tata DoCoMo pay per site plan categorizes each service under 2 different genres
Social Networking Site and Emailing & Instant Messaging. Each site under this
genre is priced at Rs. 10/- bundled with 200 MB free data usage valid for 30 days,
post which customers will be charged at 1p/kb. There are also 2 Combo options
SNS Combo Pack and Emailing Combo Pack and each Combo Pack is priced at Rs.
25/- bundled with 500 MB free data usage post which the customers will be
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charged 1p/kb.
We have been quite impressed the way Tata DoCoMo have gone about their
innovative pricing models as well as marketing strategies.

Per Character SMS Pricing


th

On 8 September 2009, the GSM branch of the Indian carrier Tata introduced a
novel pricing strategy for text messaging. Under the brand Diet-SMS, TataDOCOMO bills its customers by-the-character, rather than on a per message
basis.
It is a very attractive marketing scheme, since many wireless subscribers, almost
by habit, tend to pepper their text messages with abbreviations and acronyms.
Under the new plan, Tata-DoCoMo charges one paisa per character. For
example, a text which reads tnx (for thank-you) is charged at 3paise instead
of the normal sms charge.

The Impact

Tata DoCoMo has gathered significant market share, owing to its pricing
strategies.
Existing mobile operators are matching the price and the clear winners are the
subscribers since all the competition is sending the prices downhill

Our Take

With the proliferation of telecom operators in various metro circles


continuing, the likely outcome will be a further decrease in rates, but we
think these are likely to impact low ARPU users, and perhaps increase churn.
The key issue among high ARPU users will be network coverage; they would
prefer that a call go through, or not be disconnected, than save Rs. 0.5-Re.1
on a call.
At the same time, since operators have so far been focused on the landgrab of subscribers, the growth in the subscriber base is likely to be more
distributed.
We wonder if well eventually see a trend of people in metros keeping
multiple handsets for different services. In which case, a dual-sim handset
would help.

Tata DoCoMo has set a precedent in the telecom industry through its innovative
strategies. It is trying to keep ahead in terms of innovation and the coming few
years, with the onset of 3G services, promise to be very exciting for the mobile
phone subscribers
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CONCLUSION

The Tata Docomo is also 3G leader in INDIA.


The majority of customer satisfied.
Customer ready to buy Docomo product.
Tata Docomo is the only 3G service provider to provide 21.1 mbps speed. (17.4 mbps)
Tata Docomo is the pioneer of 1 paisa plan.
Tata Docomo is the 3G world leader.
Tata Docomo is the First provider to provide Roaming free plan.
Tata Docomo is the only provider to provide 6.5 mbps of 7.2mbps Device.
Tata Docomo is the only Company to provide Wi-Fi Router up to speed of 21.1mbps,with Plan
1000 unlimited Data plan.

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BIBLOGRAPHY

Book reference
Marketing Strategy and plan
Michael vag,

Website
www.business.gov.in
www.wikianswar.com
www.tatadocomo.com
www. businesscasestudies.com

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