In terms of the marketing mix some would say that pricing is the least attractive element. Marketing companies should really focus on generating as high a margin as possible. The argument is that the marketer should change product, place or promotion in some way before resorting to pricing reductions. However price is a versatile element of the mix as we will see.
The price charged for products and services is set artificially low in order to gain market share. Once this is achieved, the price is increased. This approach was used by France Telecom and Sky TV. These companies need to land grab large numbers of consumers to make it worth their while, so they offer free telephones or satellite dishes at discounted rates in order to get people to sign up for their services. Once there is a large number of subscribers prices gradually creep up. Taking Sky TV for example, or any cable or satellite company, when there is a premium movie or sporting event prices are at their highest – so they move from a penetration approach to more of a skimming/premium pricing approach.
This is a no frills low price. The costs of marketing and promoting a product are kept to a minimum. Supermarkets often have economy brands for soups, spaghetti, etc. Budget airlines are famous for keeping their overheads as low as possible and then giving the consumer a relatively lower price to fill an aircraft. The first few seats are sold at a very cheap price (almost a promotional price) and the middle majority are economy seats, with the highest price being paid for the last few seats on a flight (which would be a premium pricing strategy). During times of recession economy pricing sees more sales. However it is not the same as a value pricing approach which we come to shortly.
Price skimming sees a company charge a higher price because it has a substantial competitive advantage. However, the advantage tends not to be sustainable. The high price attracts new competitors into the market, and the price inevitably falls due to increased supply.
Manufacturers of digital watches used a skimming approach in the 1970s. Once other manufacturers were tempted into the market and the watches were produced at a lower unit cost, other marketing strategies and pricing approaches are implemented. New products were developed and the market for watches gained a reputation for innovation.
The diagram depicts four key pricing strategies namely premium pricing, penetration pricing, economy pricing, and price skimming which are the four main pricing policies/strategies. They form the bases for the exercise. However there are other important approaches to pricing, and we cover them throughout the entirety of this lesson.
This approach is used when the marketer wants the consumer to respond on an emotional, rather than rational basis. For example Price Point Perspective (PPP) 0.99 Cents not 1 US Dollar. It’s strange how consumers use price as an indicator of all sorts of factors, especially when they are in unfamiliar markets. Consumers might practice a decision avoidance approach when buying products in an unfamiliar setting, an example being when buying ice cream. What would you like, an ice cream at $0.75, $1.25 or $2.00? The choice is yours. Maybe you’re entering an entirely new market. Let’s say that you’re buying a lawnmower for the first time and know nothing about garden equipment. Would you automatically by the cheapest? Would you buy the most expensive? Or, would you go for a lawnmower somewhere in the middle? Price therefore may be an indication of quality or benefits in unfamiliar markets.
Product Line Pricing.
Where there is a range of products or services the pricing reflects the benefits of parts of the range. For example car washes; a basic wash could be $2, a wash and wax $4 and the whole package for $6. Product line pricing seldom reflects the cost of making the product since it delivers a range of prices that a consumer perceives as being fair incrementally – over the range.
If you buy chocolate bars or potato chips (crisps) you expect to pay X for a single packet, although if you buy a family pack which is 5 times bigger, you expect to pay less than 5X the price. The cost of making and distributing large family packs of chocolate/chips could be far more expensive. It might benefit the manufacturer to sell them singly in terms of profit margin, although they price over the whole line. Profit is made on the range rather than single items.