How Clear Are Your Pricing Differences?


I couldn’t resist a rye smile at this small article I read Friday. In one of those old-fashioned, blacken your fingertips broadsheets no less. From The Times print edition, 3rd October.

A second retail trip this week that can guide us solution sellers. It seems another day, another supermarket gets a media drubbing. This time, Wal-Mart owned Asda.

So when a punter chose to weigh their one-pound-sterling pack of bananas, the in-store labelling machine informed him they were only 54p if loose. Half-Price!

The horror.

In this case I almost have sympathy for the shop though.

Their PR response was to mention that the pre-packed ones are ripe. Loose selections are not ripe.

You clearly expect to pay a premium for eat-now bananas, at their best then and there, over green-tinged ones that may well still taste more like a stem than a fruit if eaten when bought.

I’m reminded of a tale I read long ago about Calvin Klein’s grocer father who in his Harlem shop priced the same grapefruit in two different boxes at two different amounts because, he’d observed, some people just prefer to pay more…

Then there’s the nuance that the ripened yellow jewels at Asda are also wrapped up nicely. The still plantain-y ones you bag yourself. (Although this obvious fact was perhaps deliberately left out by the press office in fear of antagonising custoemers).

The issue the store has here is that the typical shopper does not see the two different prices as representing two different products. They naturally feel a banana is a ‘narnah is a figue du paradis.

Yet a ripe one is patently not the same as its unripened alternative.

Their real crime is perhaps not the double-price for one perfect to chow today. It is rather that the true difference is not rammed home to the browser.

And so it comes to pass in b2b pricing too.

Why are some bundles priced higher than others?

How readily apparent is this to a querying prospect?

Does the price premium truly reflect a difference in the offering?

There’s no way the supermarket chain should sell pre-packaged, hand-selected, ripe bananas for the same price as loose, unripe ones. So where you do have any price increment between options of similar type, are you also making sure you’re not losing vital margin by cutting the top one to match the lower?

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