Pricing strategies are a critical aspect of any business’s marketing and sales efforts. Price is a key component of the marketing mix, which is the firm’s only source of revenue, and it not only covers the cost of manufacturing but also includes profit margin.
Three primary factors impacting a product’s pricing are its cost, consumer demand, and level of competition. The management of the company must choose between penetration pricing and price skimming in order to introduce a new product to the market.
Two commonly used pricing strategies are penetration pricing and price skimming. These strategies serve different purposes and are employed in various situations to achieve specific goals.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the key differences between penetration pricing and price skimming and when to use each one.
Penetration pricing is a pricing strategy where a company sets a relatively low initial price for a product or service with the intention of gaining a large market share quickly.
Penetration pricing refers to a pricing strategy in which a new product is given at a cheap price by adding a nominal markup to its cost of manufacturing in order to enter the market as soon as possible.
This approach is often used when a business is entering a competitive market or launching a new product. The primary goal of penetration pricing is to attract a significant number of customers by offering an attractive price, ultimately establishing brand loyalty and market dominance.
If the product is priced highly, it will easily cover the cost of promotion and production.
When the product’s market share is maximized—that is, when demand for the product increases—the company will be able to raise the price of the item.
In the short term, penetration pricing reduces earnings; however, over time, as the market base grows, profits improve as a result of penetration pricing.
The following are the justifications for using penetration pricing:
- The company’s new product is already offered by other reputable brands.
- Customers who are accustomed to other brands will be persuaded to switch to the new product by its low pricing.
- It may contribute to a quick rise in product sales.
- It prevents new competitors from joining the market.
Key characteristics of penetration pricing
- Low initial price: The initial price is set lower than the competitors’ prices, making the product or service more affordable.
- Market expansion: Penetration pricing aims to expand the market and attract a larger customer base.
- Short-term profit sacrifice: The business may initially make less profit or even incur losses, as the focus is on acquiring a substantial market share.
- Long-term gain: Once the market share is established and customer loyalty is secured, the company can gradually raise prices and start earning profits.
When to use penetration pricing?
- When entering a new market with well-established competitors.
- To gain a competitive advantage quickly.
- To appeal to price-sensitive customers.
- To encourage rapid adoption of a new product or service.
Advantages of Penetration Pricing
- Quick Market Entry: Penetration pricing facilitates a swift market entry, enabling a company to establish a robust brand presence without delay.
- Increased Market Share: By offering competitive pricing, the company can appeal to price-sensitive customers, leading to an expansion of its market share.
- Brand Recognition: The low price attracts attention and creates brand recognition, laying the foundation for the ability to command higher prices in the future.
- Customer Loyalty: Penetration pricing can foster customer loyalty, as the affordability of the product or service encourages repeat business and positive word-of-mouth referrals.
- Increased Volume: The competitive pricing strategy often results in heightened sales volume, compensating for narrower profit margins by sheer quantity of sales.
- Competition Response: Penetration pricing can serve as a strategic response to competition, helping to gain a competitive edge and potentially pushing rivals out of the market.
Disadvantages of Penetration Pricing
- Reduced Profits: The adoption of a low pricing strategy can lead to diminished profit margins, potentially failing to generate sufficient revenue to cover production and marketing costs effectively.
- Perception of Low Quality: Offering products or services at a significantly lower price may create a perception of inferior quality, making it challenging to command higher prices in the future.
- Price Wars: Setting prices below competitors can trigger price wars, resulting in decreased profits for all companies involved as they engage in aggressive price-cutting.
- Limited Customer Segments: Penetration pricing tends to attract primarily price-sensitive customers, potentially excluding those willing to pay a premium for higher quality or features.
- Brand Damage: In cases where a company is unable to increase prices later, it risks damaging its brand reputation and undermining customer loyalty.
- Difficulty in Price Adjustments: Altering prices after a prolonged period of low pricing can be problematic, often leading to customer resistance and potential loss of loyalty as they’ve grown accustomed to lower rates.
Price skimming is a pricing technique where a new product is paid a high markup, which drives up the price and removes the best products from the market. Setting a high price for the new product before rivals enter the market is necessary.
Price skimming is a strategy where a company sets a high initial price for a product or service, targeting the most willing and able buyers. The goal is to maximize profits in the early stages of the product’s lifecycle, catering to a niche market that is less price-sensitive. Over time, the company may gradually lower prices to attract a broader customer base.
This method is applied to new products that have a high degree of customer acceptability and little to no competition on the market.
The company uses market price skimming for the following reasons:
- Until the product holds a prominent place in the market, the demand for it is relatively insensitive to price changes in the initial stages.
- The initial demand for the product is unknown; therefore, a high price helps cover production costs.
- The product requires a significant amount of capital to produce at first, which drives up production costs.
- Moreover, a substantial sum is allocated into the promotional activities, contributing to the overall expense. If the product is priced highly, it will easily cover the cost of promotion and production.
Key characteristics of Price Skimming
- High initial price: The product or service is introduced at a premium price, targeting early adopters and customers who are willing to pay more for exclusivity.
- Profit maximization: price skimming aims to generate the highest possible profit margin in the initial stages of a product’s release.
- Price reductions: As competition increases or the product becomes more mainstream, the company may lower prices to reach a broader audience.
- Limited market penetration: Price skimming may limit market share initially, as it focuses on a select group of premium customers.
When to use Price Skimming?
- When launching innovative or unique products with a competitive advantage.
- To recover development and marketing costs quickly.
- To cater to a specific, niche market that values exclusivity.
Advantages of Price Skimming
- High Profits: Price skimming allows the company to quickly recoup development and production costs, leading to higher initial profits.
- Establishes Brand Image: Price skimming can create a high-end brand image, positioning the product as a premium offering.
- Assess Demand: The high initial price helps assess the level of demand for the product, enabling better inventory management.
- Limited Competition: High prices can discourage competitors in the early stages of a product’s life cycle, providing a competitive advantage.
- Early Adopters: Early adopters, who value innovation, are willing to pay a premium for new and cutting-edge products.
- Price Flexibility: Price skimming offers the flexibility to lower prices in response to market conditions or competitive pressures.
- Price Differentiation: It allows for price differentiation based on quality and perceived value, emphasizing the product’s superiority.
Disadvantages of Price Skimming
- Reduced Demand: The high initial price may limit demand and potentially restrict the product’s market size.
- Alienates Cost-Conscious Buyers: Price skimming may alienate cost-conscious consumers who seek value in their purchases.
- Attracts Imitators: A high price may attract imitators who can offer similar products at lower, more competitive prices.
- Perception of Poor Value: High pricing can create a perception of poor value, even for high-quality products, deterring potential customers.
- Limits Market Size: The limited market size due to higher pricing can restrict the potential for long-term growth and sustainability.
- Decreased Brand Loyalty: High prices may discourage brand loyalty, prompting customers to seek more affordable alternatives.
- Negative Brand Image: A high price may result in a negative brand image, especially if the product is perceived as overpriced, which can harm the brand’s reputation.
Difference Between Penetration Pricing and Price Skimming
The following lists the differences between penetration and Price Skimming:
- Penetration pricing, in which the product is initially supplied at a cheap price, is a pricing strategy used by the company to draw in an increasing number of customers. On the other hand, price skimming refers to a pricing strategy where a high price is initially charged in order to maximize profit.
- The goal of penetration pricing is to increase market share by providing the product at a discount. In contrast, the goal of the price skimming strategy is to provide the product at the highest price in order to maximize profit from customers.
- When the product’s demand is reasonably elastic, the penetration pricing approach is used. Conversely, when there is inelastic demand for the product, price skimming is used.
- The profit margin is rather high in price skimming as opposed to penetration pricing.
- Due to the product’s cheap initial penetration price, the company sells huge quantities of the product. In contrast, in the case of price skimming, customers desire a small quantity of the product due to its high price.
|Feature||Price Skimming||Penetration Pricing|
|Definition||A pricing strategy where a high price is set initially and gradually reduced over time.||A pricing strategy where a low price is set initially to attract customers and gradually increased over time.|
|Purpose||To recover costs and maximize profits from early adopters.||To gain market share and attract a large customer base quickly.|
|Product Life Cycle||Suitable for mature products or markets.||Suitable for new products or markets.|
|Price||high initial price that gradually decreases||low initial price that gradually increases|
|Customer||Early adopters and premium customers who are willing to pay a premium price.||Price-sensitive customers who are attracted by low prices.|
|Margin||High margins initially, gradually decreases.||Low margins initially, gradually increases.|
|Competition||High competition due to high prices.||Low competition due to low prices.|
|Marketing||Focus on product quality and uniqueness.||Focus on price and value.|
|Sales Volume||Low initially, gradually increases.||High initially, gradually decreases.|
- Purpose: price skimming seeks to maximize profits through the initial establishment of high prices, followed by gradual reductions, whereas penetration pricing aims to swiftly acquire a market share by commencing with low initial prices.
- Target Market: price skimming caters to early adopters and premium market segments, while penetration pricing targets price-sensitive consumers.
- Duration: Skimming is a short-term pricing strategy, while penetration pricing can be sustained over an extended period.
- Competition: price skimming is typically deployed in markets with limited or no competition, while penetration pricing is employed in highly competitive markets.
- Price Adjustment: price skimming involves a progressive reduction in prices over time, while penetration pricing entails maintaining consistently low prices to sustain market share.
Similarities between Skimming and Penetration Pricing
- Pricing Strategies: Both Skimming and Penetration Pricing are pricing strategies employed in the marketing and sales of products or services.
- Market Attraction: Both strategies aim to attract customers and capture market share rapidly, through different pricing approaches.
- Initial Pricing: Both strategies involve setting an initial price, which serves as a critical aspect of achieving specific marketing and sales objectives.
- Price Adjustments: price skimming begins with a high initial price that gradually decreases over time, while Penetration Pricing starts with a low initial price that gradually increases as the strategy unfolds.
- Cost Recovery: Both strategies can be utilized to recover the costs associated with research and development, production, and marketing, albeit through varying approaches.
- Planning and Monitoring: The successful implementation of both Skimming and Penetration Pricing requires careful planning and continuous monitoring to adapt to market conditions and consumer responses.
Examples of Price Penetration
- Chocolate Bars: Many chocolate bar brands use price penetration to enter the mass market. They initially offer their products at lower prices to attract a wide customer base.
- Food Stuffs: Various food items, especially new products, are introduced using a price penetration strategy. Lower initial prices entice consumers to try the products.
- Household Goods: Products such as cleaning supplies, toiletries, and basic household items often employ price penetration to capture a substantial market share.
- WhatsApp: Even major digital services like WhatsApp have employed price penetration. They start with low or free usage to attract users, and once they have a significant user base, they may introduce premium features for a fee.
- Netflix: Netflix initially offered its streaming services at a low monthly subscription cost, which can be considered a form of price penetration. As it gained more subscribers, it raised prices gradually over time.
- Texas Instruments: Texas Instruments, an American technology company, has historically used price penetration. By building large manufacturing plants and initially setting low prices for their products, they capture a significant market share. As production costs decrease due to economies of scale, they can further reduce prices to maintain a competitive edge.
Examples of Price Skimming
- Smartphones: Companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google often use price skimming when launching new smartphone models. They set high initial prices to capitalize on early adopters and tech enthusiasts who are willing to pay a premium for the latest features.
- Jewelry: High-end jewelry brands like Tiffany & Co. use price skimming to target customers seeking luxury and exclusivity. They start with high prices and gradually lower them as the product ages.
- Digital Technologies: Products like gaming consoles, high-end cameras, and advanced consumer electronics often employ price skimming to maximize profits from early adopters.
- Apple: Apple frequently implements price skimming for its products, such as iPhones and iPads. These devices are introduced at premium prices, and over time, as newer models are released, prices decrease to reach a broader audience.
- Sony: Sony, known for its high-quality electronic products, often employs price skimming for its televisions and gaming consoles, targeting customers who are willing to pay more for top-of-the-line technology.
Penetration pricing and price skimming are two distinct pricing strategies, each suited to different business scenarios and objectives.
Penetration pricing aims to capture market share and build customer loyalty by offering low initial prices, while Price Skimming focuses on maximizing profits early on by setting high initial prices.
Understanding when and how to use these strategies can be crucial in achieving your business goals and adapting to changing market dynamics. Ultimately, the choice between these strategies depends on your product, target market, and long-term business objectives.