Pricing is the strongest profit driver available to management. One percent improvement in price yields much higher operating profit improvement than e.g. one percent improvement in units sold, unit costs or fixed costs. Therefore, price increases should come regularly and at the very least annually. Also, almost all countries and markets have inflation, so as a minimum you should plan price increases in line with inflation. But a true price increase strategy reflects the value perceived by customers and price you as a result can harvest.
What should the next price be? for a new product about to be launched? or an existing service where one wants to increase the price for any number of reasons? The facts are that in 88% of all cases the price setting process inside a company is largely based on guesswork and gut feeling rather than science. Or simply based on the previous price.
by Pedro Piccoli Soares, guest blogger.
Disclaimer: please note that price discrimination may be subject to legal constraints in some countries. You should always seek legal guidance when implementing pricing schemes, and nothing in this article should be construed as suggestions to do something illegal.
Many people believe that there is a relationship in Pricing between the cost of a certain product and its price, however, such connection doesn't really exist when taking the customer's point of view. Customers in general, don't buy products thinking about the cost that the supplier had to produce them; besides they don't have access to this information. What brings a customer to render a purchase is the relationship between the price of the product and the perceived value.
That relationship is very simple: If the customer perceives that the value of an item is larger than the price of it, he will proceed with the purchase. On the other hand, if the perceived value is smaller than the necessary amount of money to acquire the product, the purchase will not happen. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the concept of value.
Value is the sum of all of the benefits noticed by the customer when consuming a product or service. Those perceived advantages can be related to economical, functional or emotional / psychological characteristics of the product. Reduction of costs or productivity increases, for instance, can be considered as economical benefits. Better accuracy and speed are reflections of a product that generates functional advantages. A product that increases the consumer confidence, intelligence or that improves his image, is a one that generates emotional / psychological benefits.
All of these can seem easy, however, there is a small detail that makes everything much more complex.
Different customers perceive different values or, in other words, the observed value of a certain product/service is not the same for all the people that consume it. Consequently there is a variation in the Willingness to Pay, depending on who is buying it. If the consumers are willing to pay different prices for the same product, why should we charge them the same price?
Think about this example: your friend shows you the new shirt that he bought and tells you that he paid $100 for it. In that moment you think: "That is too expensive, I would not pay more than $80." At the same time your other friend, that really liked the shirt, is thinking that $100 was a very cheap price and that he would be willing to pay $120. That is one simple example of our daily life and it illustrates exactly what was said previously.
So, by defining a universal price for the item, the manufacturer of the shirt loses sales for customers like you, that would buy the product for a smaller price and, at the same time, it loses margin from customers such as your other friend, who would pay a higher amount of money for the product.
Price Discrimination is one of the main weapons of Pricing to optimize the financial result of a business. We can say that a company uses that strategy when a given product / service is sold to different groups of customers at different prices, for reasons that are not associated to the costs of it. However, implementing that strategy correctly is not something simple.
First it is necessary to understand the customers, to have strong insights on them, about their willingness to pay and about which factors motivate them to a purchase. The economical factors that influence price (internal and external) and pricing rules (discount politics and payment conditions) are also important as well . Psychological patterns of the customer are essential too, including for B2B transactions.
The next step is to segment. Divide your customers in groups according to consumption characteristics that are relevant for your business. Customers that buy daily and monthly; Customers that buy online and in a store; Customers that program purchases and the ones that ask for delivery with urgency; etc. The segmentation is the most important part because you will analyze what factors influence the willingness to pay of your customers. After that, set a price for each perceived value of your customers. An exact price will never exist, but you can vary it, analyzing the price elasticity until finding out which price brings the best result for your company.
By doing this, your company will begin to work with strategic pricing basing on the value that each group of customers notices in their products. Don't forget that, as each group that you segmented sees a value for your product, the communication of value should follow the same logic. The key is to demonstrate the value of what is being sold for the customer in the best way, this is one of the key principles for pricing optimization.
Price discrimination is not anti-ethics and also not immoral, it is just good business for everyone. Flight companies and hotels don't charge the same price for customers that buy in advance and for those that accomplish the purchase on top of the hour. Physical stores usually have higher prices when compared to online stores and big restaurants companies often set different prices in their menu according on the city that they are operating.
Anyway, think about ways of structuring that practice in your company without causing embarrassments or complications with your customers. The idea is that the consumers must not feel prejudiced in relation to other consumer, but that all of them feel as if they are making a great purchase.
Price segmentation involves charging different prices to different customers for a product or service that is the same or similar. It is a strategy that is very common as customers will face different prices when going to cinemas or when using vouchers in different shops. The airline industry uses price segmentation effectively all the time as customers rarely pay the same price for a particular seat.
Imagine a product costs £25, some customers may be willing to pay more while some others may find that price to be too much. Firms lose money from customers who won't purchase the product at that price as well as losing money from customers who are willing to pay more. If that company were to segment that price into three categories, £20, £25, and £30, then it can appeal to customers looking for a cheaper product as well as extracting that extra revenue from the customer segment that were willing to pay more for their product.
The end of the year remains the time where many businesses plan and execute price increases for the coming year. By how much, when and what product or market scope are then key questions. By getting market facts through price research instead of guessing what are the best areas to increase in, companies can improve the likely success of such increases tremendously. It can help a business get a firm grip on what product features are more important, what customer are willing to pay for a certain product or service, and analyse what competitors are charging for their products.
Barriers to entry and the difficulty of doing business abroad have reduced considerably over the last two decades, thanks to technologies such as the Internet. This means it is much easier to do business around the globe but also that brand and product communication is increasingly global. Customers or consumers in Germany can now see product features, prices and discounts offered in USA or Singapore, and may create bad publicity if they feel that what they pay for locally is not of the same value. International prices are also considerably more transparent than ever before. On the other hand, both willingness-to-pay and actual prices do differ considerably around the globe, be it of similar of even identical products. What an Indian or Brazilian customer is willing to pay for Product A may not be the same. Or, a German customer may value Feature B over Feature A whereas the Canadian or Danish customer really only cares about Feature B and maybe Feature C that is not even available in Germany.
Dynamic pricing is all the rage among pricing experts these days. It looks at building models for adjusting prices dynamically, based on various inputs, from who the customer is, to their purchase patterns, market conditions and a wealth of other factors. Dynamic pricing has been used a long time in the travel industry, e.g. when the airline fare goes up or down depending on demand, from where people are booking, availability and popularity, and much more.
Dynamic pricing is very powerful as it allows companies to set the (right) price depending on demand or internal constraints. It also in theory allows for adjusting to differences in willingness-to-pay, even if this is a grey area in the jurisdictions where price discrimination (different prices to different customers for no objective reason) is not permitted. Dynamic pricing means you can adapt quickly to differences in stock, or scarce capacity of certain resources. It also allows for quickly updating prices if costs change so much that profitability would otherwise be in jeopardy.
Dynamic models in their simplest form, basically take a starting point and then add various factors, either internal or external, and then arrive at the final price for the given situation/quote/customer/website update/etc.
Having solid market research about willingness-to-pay can enhance dynamic pricing models. Willingness-to-pay data, especially when collected for different segments, and both own products and competitive products, can help enhance the dynamic pricing. WtP data can be one or more factors in a model like the one above, and therefore have an impact on what the final price is for a specific segment, or for a specific concept that previously has been tested through market research.
But wait, if dynamic prices mean new prices all the time, do I also need to conduct market research all the time too? No, is the short answer. Factors in a dynamic pricing model often stay constant for weeks or months. So in practical terms you can still use market research willingness-to-pay insights that was done 6 or 12 months ago, and still achieve great results. Generally, we recommend updating WtP insights at least once a year.
If you want to learn more about how you can build a dynamic pricing model and use market research insights to make it more accurate, get in contact with us.
Communication is key in any comprehensive price management setup. Price and Value Communication is how you communicate with the customers, and communication and training is what makes the difference between convinced sales people, who deliver value conviction to the customers, and sales people who are indifferent and not able to defend the company's prices.
OK, so of course your product or service has a price. A price that reflects what you think is a fair price for the value you deliver to the customers(?). But do the customers see it the same way? And do you charge appropriate prices for what the customers value, or is it disjointed?