The Four Main Pricing Strategies

A solid pricing strategy is very important for any business. Let’s have a look at the options.

There are four main pricing strategies that businesses use to price their products and services: value-based, competition-based, cost-plus, and dynamic pricing.

Value-based pricing is when businesses price their products and services based on the perceived value to the customer. This means that businesses will charge a higher price for products and services that are seen as being more valuable or beneficial to the customer. For example, a luxury car or a high-end piece of jewelry would be priced using value-based pricing.

Competition-based pricing is when businesses set their prices based on what their competitors are charging for similar products or services. Businesses will typically charge a lower price than their competitors to attract more customers. However, there is always the risk that competitors will lower their prices in response, which can lead to a price war.

Cost-plus pricing is when businesses add a markup to the cost of their product or service to make a profit. The markup is usually a percentage of the cost, so businesses will need to calculate their costs carefully to ensure they are making a profit. This method is commonly used by manufacturing companies selling products in bulk.

Dynamic pricing is when businesses change their prices based on demand or other conditions. For example, hotels and airlines often use dynamic pricing, raising prices during peak times and lowering them during off-peak times. Businesses can also use dynamic pricing to offer discounts to customers who are willing to buy at less popular times, such as early bird discounts for restaurants.

Benefits of value-based pricing

Value-based pricing has many advantages. It’s possible to

  • easily enter the market
  • command higher prices
  • prove that there is a real willingness to pay
  • help you produce better products
  • increase customer services focus
  • build customer loyalty
  • increase brand value
  • and balance the supply and demand

Risks of competition-based pricing

The risks of competition-based pricing are many and varied. Perhaps the biggest risk is that of missed opportunities. By following the herd and pricing in line with your competitors, you may be missing out on potential profits.

It is also important to think short-term when using this pricing strategy. What may work today may not be effective tomorrow, as your competitors could easily undercut you. This could lead to a race to the bottom, where profits are eroded and businesses go out of business.

There is also the risk that your products or services could be perceived as being of lower quality if you price them too low. This could damage your brand reputation and make it difficult to raise prices in the future.

How to calculate cost-plus pricing

The cost-plus pricing strategy is a simple one: businesses simply add together their costs for materials, labor, and overhead, then multiply that figure by a markup amount. So if a company’s costs totaled $100 and their desired markup was 10%, the final price would be $110.

Of course, calculating costs can be more complicated than just adding up a few line items. Overhead costs, in particular, can be tricky to pin down. These are expenses that you cannot directly link back to labor or material costs. They’re often associated with the creation of a product - think rent for your office space or the cost of running your factory - and can vary greatly from one business to another.

Still, the cost-plus pricing strategy can be a helpful starting point for setting prices, especially if you’re new to pricing products or services. Once you have a better understanding of your own costs and the market landscape, you can start to experiment with other pricing strategies.

Specific examples of dynamic pricing

Dynamic pricing is a pricing strategy whereby prices are constantly updated and adjusted in real-time based on market demand, availability, and other factors. This type of pricing can be found across a variety of industries, including tourism, airlines, hospitality, e-commerce, car rental, retail, and utility.

Some specific examples of businesses that use dynamic pricing include:


Airlines often dynamically price their tickets based on factors such as demand, time until departure, seat availability, etc. This allows them to maximize revenues and fill up flights while still offering discounts to customers who are willing to book early or travel during off-peak times.


Hotels and other hospitality businesses often use dynamic pricing to adjust their rates based on occupancy levels. This helps them ensure that they are always making the most revenue possible while also providing discounts to customers who book during less busy times.


E-commerce businesses often employ dynamic pricing to compete with other sellers in the market. By constantly adjusting prices based on demand and availability, they can ensure that they are always offering the best possible deal to customers.

Car rental

Car rental companies often use dynamic pricing to manage their fleet sizes and utilization levels. By adjusting prices based on demand, they can ensure that they always have enough cars available for customers while also maximizing revenue per vehicle.

Advantages and disadvantages of dynamic pricing

Dynamic pricing, also known as real-time pricing or demand-based pricing, is a pricing strategy that adjusts prices based on supply and demand. The goal of dynamic pricing is to maximize profits by selling each unit at the highest possible price while still meeting customer demand.

There are several advantages to using dynamic pricing.

  • Dynamic pricing can help increase profits and sales. By charging different prices for different products or services based on customer demand, businesses can ensure that they are always making the most money possible.
  • Dynamic pricing can help businesses adjust to the competition. If a competitor lowers their prices, businesses can match or beat those prices using dynamic pricing to stay competitive.
  • Dynamic pricing is flexible and can be adapted to changing circumstances quickly and easily.
  • Improved inventory management is another potential advantage of using dynamic pricing. By knowing how much customers are willing to pay for certain products or services, businesses can better manage their inventory levels and ensure they have enough stock on hand to meet customer needs.

However, there are also some disadvantages associated with dynamic pricing. First of all, customers may be dissatisfied with being charged different prices for the same product or service depending on when they purchase it. This could lead to negative word-of-mouth and decreased customer loyalty.

  • Businesses may lose sales if they set their prices too high. Customers may simply go elsewhere if they feel like they are being overcharged.
  • Gaming the system is a risk with any type of automated price setting. If savvy customers figure out how the system works, they could manipulate it to get lower prices than other customers who are unaware of the gaming opportunity.

About the Author
Hi there, I'm James, founder of Melbado. I have over 20 years of experience as a leader and entrepreneur. Recently, I turned to leadership coaching and writing to pass on my knowledge to the next generation. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me via our contact page.


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