Price Positioning: Strategies to Maximize Profit

Master price positioning with strategies that defy expectations. Unlock maximum profitability with counterintuitive pricing tactics.


May 20, 2024

Pricing Strategies

Did you know that a 1 percent increase in prices can lead to an 8 percent jump in operating profits? Yet, many businesses leave significant revenue on the table by setting prices based on gut feeling or by copying competitors. To maximize profitability and growth potential, you need data-driven price positioning strategies designed for your business model.

This post reveals how to unlock that untapped potential.

Table of Contents

    Types of price positioning strategies

    Choosing the right price positioning strategy depends on your company's unique goals. Here's a look at popular pricing strategies. We have included counterintuitive approaches that might yield better results.

    Economy pricing

    Economy pricing prioritizes low price and affordability above all else. Businesses that price their products at the lowest possible levels try to maximize sales volume and profit through sheer quantity sold. This is a common strategy in e-commerce.

    Instead of selling products at a lower price, consider a value-based economy approach. Highlight the benefits and features that customers receive despite the affordable price point.

    Price skimming

    Skimming capitalizes on the novelty of innovative products by setting high initial prices. It targets early adopters who are less price-sensitive and eager to be the first to own the latest technology or trend.

    Instead of focusing on early adopters, consider offering an initial discount, which can generate wider buzz and attract a larger initial customer base. It can also lead to greater long-term profitability by establishing market share in less time.

    Pricing Positioning Strategy (Click to expand)

    Competitive pricing

    Using this pricing model, companies watch market rates and adjust prices to stay within a similar range.

    While market awareness is crucial, avoid falling into the trap of pricing based on what others are doing. Analyze what makes your product or service unique and identify the ideal customer who sees the greatest value in it. As a result, you can justify a price that may be higher (or even lower) than direct competitors.

    Penetration pricing

    Brands use penetration pricing to enter a new market with a lower price to attract customers and gain market share. The goal is to build a large customer base in a short period and disrupt the existing market. However, companies must plan for eventual price increases.

    A counterintuitive variation is to offer an attractive but time-limited introductory offer. The goal is to create urgency by emphasizing the product's core benefits. By focusing on benefits, customers may be more receptive to a future price increase.

    Dynamic price positioning strategy

    Dynamic price positioning involves frequent, sometimes even real-time, price adjustments. Businesses often use sophisticated tools and algorithms to analyze data and find the optimal price point.

    Another approach to consider is to adjust prices in ways that feel reasonable to customers. For example, you might make small increases during known peak periods versus unpredictable surges. Be transparent and explain the logic behind price changes, framing increases as a way to improve availability or service.

    Premium pricing

    This strategy relies on a segment of customers who will pay more for the perceived value associated with a premium product or service. For premium pricing to work, companies must craft a brand identity that justifies the higher price point.

    While the core of premium strategy is high prices, a counterintuitive approach lies in the way value is communicated. Emphasize the tangible benefits and transformative experience your product or service offers. The goal is to make customers feel like they are getting exceptional value that justifies the investment.

    Important note: There is no single 'best' price positioning strategy. The key to success lies in aligning your pricing model with your business objectives and target audience.

    How to Differentiate Your Brand with Premium Pricing

    Discover the art of premium pricing strategy. Learn how to implement premium pricing to attract high-end customers and maximize profits.

    Building an effective price position in the market

    Before choosing a price strategy, you must do an in-depth analysis of the market, target audience, and competition. But don't let conventional wisdom limit your thinking.

    In this section, we'll explore the key areas to analyze while looking for unexpected opportunities.

    Market research

    Understanding economic factors is key. They reveal industry pricing trends and consumer views that will help you set realistic limits for your pricing.

    Conduct market analysis to assess economic indicators like inflation, unemployment, and consumer confidence index. Knowing how these metrics affect purchasing power can influence the price of your product.

    But don't assume there is a single right response to market conditions. In some niches, charging more during a downturn can be a signal of stability or quality. Track consumer perceptions and sentiment. Sometimes a price that is above the norm creates an aspiration effect.

    Target market

    When researching the target audience, go beyond demographics. Look at purchaser preferences in each market segment. Use surveys and customer interviews to find out what customers value in products like yours. you'll also discover the features or benefits they will pay more for.

    Don't assume price sensitivity is universal. Some buyers equate higher prices with better solutions. A more in-depth approach is to analyze consumer purchasing behavior. Assess how people evaluate product features to learn more about their decision-making process and sensitivity to price fluctuations.

    The Conjoint Analysis method is a popular way to study consumer decision-making. It reveals which product features impact the target customer’s purchasing decisions the most.

    Consumers must believe the value of your product or service exceeds its price. When they do, you can charge more for it.

    Competitive analysis

    Competitive analysis includes a review of rivals’ product offerings and market positioning. Use a competitive matrix or SWOT analysis to execute this step. A competitive matrix helps compare your product features and pricing to competitor products. A SWOT analysis identifies your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

    The goal isn't to match or undercut your competition. Analysis helps you find the gaps: where can you offer unique value that justifies a premium, or fill an underserved need at a lower price point? Don't get trapped in a race to the bottom but seek out where you can win on your own terms.

    Develop a pricing strategy (Click to expand)

    Price-based positioning strategy and the brand (with examples)

    The price of a product or service isn’t just an amount customers pay–it shapes brand perception. But remember, the relationship between price and perception can be unpredictable.

    The perceived quality of a product is one example. While consumers often associate higher prices with higher quality (think Bang and Olufsen), the opposite can also be true. Some brands keep prices low on purpose to signal accessibility and value, like IKEA.

    Overpricing can backfire. Remember Juicero? Their high-tech juicer flopped because its high price damaged the brand's reputation.

    A product’s perceived value is another aspect influenced by price. Apple products command a premium, yet customers flock to them. When a brand delivers an exceptional experience, price becomes secondary for some segments of the market.

    Psychology plays a role in pricing as well. Charm pricing (e.g., $9.99) and price anchoring are classic tactics, but don't rely on them too much. Savvy consumers see through these tricks. Instead, develop clear value messaging that will have a longer-term impact on your brand.

    The price of a product should cover a company’s expenses and support its long-term profitability. But don't let fear of short-term losses prevent you from experimenting with pricing. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but finding the right balance is key to a strong brand and sustainable growth.

    Case study: The risks of drastic repositioning

    J. Crew was once-popular mid-market retailer. The brand attempted to elevate its brand image with higher-end materials and a significant price increase. However, the new strategy alienated their core customer base who found the new prices out of reach. The company failed to attract enough luxury shoppers to compensate, leading to declining sales and a damaged brand image.

    To avoid J. Crew's mistake, brands should know their customers, plan changes carefully, and focus on transparency. Consider the long-term impact on brand perception. If a major shift is needed, a phased approach can ease the transition. Finally, watch customer response and market feedback after a change. Be prepared to adapt the strategy as needed.

    Problems with Pricing Strategies
    Problems with Pricing Strategies

    Overcoming challenges in price positioning

    Businesses face several key challenges in price positioning. Here are the most common executives should address:

    • Price sensitivity: In markets with price-conscious customers, companies must avoid competing on price. Emphasize your product's unique value proposition, exceptional quality, or superior customer service. Building strong brand loyalty can mitigate price sensitivity.

    • The danger of price wars: Getting locked in a price war with competitors erodes profits for everyone involved. While being price-competitive is important, differentiation will help brands avoid this trap. Develop a strong brand identity and highlight features or benefits that set you apart. Differentiation makes it harder for competitors to take market share by undercutting your prices.

    • Undervaluing products: Be careful not to undervalue your product for the sake of market penetration. This can damage profits and erode brand image. Assess your costs, unique attributes, and the market's perceived value of your product. Set prices that reflects its value and communicate it to customers with a marketing strategy.

    • Long-term sustainability: Overcoming these pricing challenges takes more than short-term tactics. Companies should build a brand with long-term pricing power and profitability. Effective price positioning ensures you can deliver value to customers while maintaining healthy margins.

    Effective price positioning strategies for different economic conditions

    Economic fluctuations present challenges, but also unexpected opportunities.

    Conventional wisdom might suggest lowering prices in a downturn. But there are scenarios where maintaining, or even raising prices, could be the smarter strategic move. Market research and competitor analysis can help you determine the pricing strategies to use during specific economic conditions.

    Here are considerations for different economic scenarios:

    Economic downturns

    • Emphasize value: Highlight your product's core benefits and affordability.
    • Consider promotions: Temporary discounts or bundled offers can attract price-sensitive customers. For example, during the 2008 recession, Domino's Pizza thrived with its $5.99 deal, a move that emphasized value without sacrificing quality perception.
    • Tiered pricing: Offer different versions of your product at varying price points to appeal to a wider market.

    Inflationary periods

    • Gradual price increases: Implement small, incremental price increases to avoid customer shock.
    • Focus on value messaging: Emphasize the enduring quality and benefits that justify a higher price. Tide, the iconic laundry detergent, has a reputation for maintaining its premium position even when economic conditions make things tough. Their success comes down to consistent brand messaging that emphasizes superior cleaning power and quality. Even with inflation impacting production costs, Procter & Gamble makes strategic price adjustments across its portfolio. This includes products like Tide detergent and Downy dryer sheets, where a focus on enduring value helps justify a premium price tag.
    • Cost control: Explore ways to streamline operations to offset rising material or production costs.

    Stable economic growth

    • Maintain competitive pricing: Analyze competitor prices on a routine basis to stay within the market range.
    • Premium options: Consider introducing higher-end product lines to capitalize on increased spending power.
    • Invest in differentiation: As markets grow, stand out with unique features or service offerings.
    Optimal Price Point
    Optimal Price Point

    Do you need help optimizing your price positioning for maximum profitability?

    A brand audit provides the strategic insights you need to make more confident pricing decisions. We'll analyze your market, target customers, and competitors to identify the pricing strategies that align best with your business goals.

    With our expertise, you can:

    • Attract your ideal customers: Identify the price points that resonate with those who value your product or service.
    • Boost your bottom line: Discover untapped profit potential through strategic pricing optimization.
    • Outsmart your competitors: Develop pricing that maximizes your competitive advantage.

    Ready to unlock the power of optimal pricing? Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

    Chris Fulmer PCM-Brand Auditors

    Chris Fulmer, PCM®

    Brand Strategist | Managing Director

    Chris has over 15 years of experience in brand development and marketing. He has designed strategies across various industries, such as technology, B2B services, and healthcare. His expertise includes brand positioning, competitive analysis, content marketing, and web development.

    Click to learn more about Chris

    Are you ready to find out how a brand audit can transform your business?

    Our brand audit process is a comprehensive analysis designed to help companies optimize performance.

    • Increase ROI on lead generation and sales conversions.
    • Reduce marketing expenses.
    • Strengthen brand positioning to become more competitive.

    We guarantee satisfaction or get your money back! Schedule a discovery call with a brand auditor to find out more.

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