Marketing Mix-Price

In the case of products, the term 'price' is used for all kinds of goods- fruits, clothes, computers, building etc. but in the case of services, different terms are used for different services. The following table shows the term used for some selected services.

Pricing and Service Characteristics

In determining the prices of services, the one characteristic which has great impact is their perishability and the fact that fluctuations in demand cannot be met through inventory. Hotels and airlines offering low rates in off-season are examples of how pricing strategy can be used to offset the perishable characteristics of services.

Another characteristic of services that creates a problem in price determination is the high content of the intangible component. The higher the intangibility, the more difficult it is to calculate cost and greater the tendency towards no uniform services, such as fees of doctors, management consultants, lawyers. In such cases, the price may sometimes be settled through negotiation between the buyer and seller.

The third characteristic to be kept in mind while determining prices is that in many services, the prices are subject to regulations, either by the government or by trade associations. Bank charges, electricity and water rates, fare for rail and air transport in every country are controlled by the government. In all such cases, the producer has no freedom to determine his own price. The two methods which a service organisation may use to determine prices are cost-based pricing and market-oriented pricing. In the former, the price may be regulated by the government or industry association on the basis of the cost incurred by the most efficient unit. Such a pricing strategy is effective in restricting entry and aiming at minimum profit targets. The market-oriented pricing may either be a result of the competition or customer oriented.

In case of competition-oriented pricing, the price may be fixed at the level which the competitor is charging, or fixed lower to increase market share. Customer oriented pricing varies according the to customer's ability to pay.

Role of Non-monetary Costs

Non-monetary costs refer to the sacrifices perceived by the consumers, other than monetary costs, when buying and using a service. Many a times the non monetary costs may become even more important than monetary costs. The nonmonetary costs can be broadly divided into the following categories. 

* Time Costs: The time required by a consumer would include actual time of interaction with the service provider as well as the waiting time. Therefore, the consumer is not only spending his money but also sacrificing his time. 

* Search Costs: These involve the efforts put in by the consumer in searching information, finding out alternatives and evaluating them. Typically search costs are far greater in case of services as compared to goods 

* Psychic Costs: These include fear of not understanding or fear of rejection or fear of uncertainty.

Pricing Strategies

a) Differential or Flexible Pricing is used to reduce the 'perishability' characteristic of services and iron out the fluctuations in demand.

b) Discount Pricing refers to the practice of offering a commission or discount to intermediates such as advertising agencies, stock brokers, property dealers for rendering a service.

c) Diversionary Pricing refers to a low price which is quoted for a basic service to attract customers. 

d) Guaranteed Pricing refers to pricing strategy in which payment is to be made only after the results are achieved. Employment agencies charge their fee only when a person actually gets a job, a property dealer charges his commission only after the deal is actually transacted.

e) High Price Maintenance Pricing strategy is used when the high price is associated with the quality of the service. Many doctors, lawyers and other professionals follow this pricing strategy.

f) Loss Leader Pricing is one in which an initial low price is charged in the hope of getting more business at subsequently better prices.

g) Offset Pricing is quite similar to diversionary pricing in which a basic low price is quoted but the extra services are rather highly priced. A gynecologist may charge a low fee for the nine months of pregnancy through which she regularly checks her patient, but many charge extra for performing the actual delivery and post-delivery visits.

h) Price Bundling: Some services are consumed more effectively in combination with other services. When customer perceives value in package of services that are interrelated, price bundling is an appropriate strategy. It basically means pricing and selling services as a group rather than individually.


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