Have you ever looked for flights and hotel room prices online, only to return with your credit card the next day and find that the price has increased? Dynamic pricing is a strategy that involves setting multiple price points based on a few key factors.
It’s a familiar concept. The goal has always been to adjust prices based on factors other than production costs. Yet refining the data has been a technically demanding and painfully slow process. We lacked the tools to analyze massive datasets quickly and spot trends and recurring patterns.
However, advanced technological tools, data science, and machine learning have brought it within reach for even smaller businesses.
But at the same time, customers have caught on. They know that someone, somewhere, might be paying less, and they are coming up with ways to trick dynamic pricing models. For example, they switch their VPN server to other countries to fool geo-based dynamic pricing algorithms.
So, should you employ this strategy for your business, or do you risk customers thinking less of your brand and turning elsewhere?
What Is Dynamic Pricing?
Dynamic pricing enables companies to increase their profits by adjusting the prices of their products or services in real time based on market demand. Dynamic pricing changes items’ prices at the point of sale according to a predetermined set of rules and data points.
The variables used in dynamic pricing vary depending on what you’re selling. Different rules apply to different products and services. There are numerous combinations possible within each category. Some examples of dynamic pricing strategies include:
- Peak or surge pricing. This lets you take advantage of seasonal peaks or periods of increased demand. For example, hotel rooms will have higher rates during the summer months.
- Segmented or targeted pricing. This strategy finds the maximum price a particular user is able and ready to pay. It is based on their spending ability compared to other customers.
- Changing market conditions. When sales slow down due to macroeconomic factors, you can adjust pricing downwards but increase prices again when the market improves.
- Time-based pricing. You can offer faster service for a higher charge. For example, “fast passes” let you skip the line at theme parks.
- Penetration pricing. You can lower prices to help a product penetrate a new market.
- Competitive pricing. You can set prices based on the prices of competitors. This pricing method is valuable for businesses that sell similar products to other brands. It’s practiced on e-commerce retail sites like Amazon. They offer widely available products produced by numerous brands.
What Are the Benefits of Dynamic Pricing?
Dynamic pricing can help you to make more money via various tweaks to optimize your offering. Benefits include:
- Increased revenue. You can adjust prices based on supply and demand. Nimble price adjustments can help businesses maximize profits. They can do this by charging higher prices during peak demand periods and lower prices during off-peak periods.
- Increased profits. Dynamic pricing models always aim to find the highest price the customer is ready to pay. In contrast, traditional pricing strategies must search for a middle ground between losing the sale or losing a chance to increase your markup.
- Tailored pricing. You can combine historical data about your target group with specific customer information. This helps to find the highest pricing sweet spot.
- Higher customer satisfaction. You can improve customer satisfaction by offering lower prices during off-peak periods. Competitive prices can attract new customers and help retain loyal customers.
- Better inventory management. You can adjust prices based on demand to help avoid stockouts and overstocking.
- Increased competitiveness. You can maintain a reputation for fair market-related prices.
What Are the Disadvantages of Dynamic Pricing?
Dynamic pricing has some flaws, too. The most serious issue is that you must thoroughly understand the product, market, and target groups. You risk choosing the wrong variables to trigger your price adaptations if you don’t. Other disadvantages include:
- Negative consumer perception. Some customers might perceive dynamic pricing as exploitative and opportunistic. It could create an unfavorable perception of the business.
- Technical requirements. Frequent price adjustments according to market conditions can get complicated. You’ll need the correct tools and skills to adapt prices quickly and efficiently.
- Bad timing. Customers might wait for prices to drop before buying, which can lead to mad rushing at the last minute.
- A toll on brand loyalty. If a company keeps changing prices, people might stop trusting the brand and look elsewhere.
- Customer dissatisfaction. If customers purchase the same product at slightly different times, one customer will pay more than the other. This upsets customers who have to pay a higher price.
Dynamic Pricing vs. Customer Privacy
Customers know that dynamic pricing is profit-oriented. They also realize that your business studies their personal data to build an accurate dynamic pricing scheme. That includes demographic and behavioral data, like paywall interactions, personal profile data, and purchase history.
There are significant signs that people don’t like online tracking. People protested Google’s brand of lawless privacy invasion. Now, Google is phasing out cookies and limiting their other tracking methods.
When Does Dynamic Pricing Become Price Discrimination?
Charging different prices for the same product is legal and not always wrong. For example, companies that use geo-targeting as a basis for their prices could profit more from customers in prosperous countries. They could then use the profits to subsidize their customers in poorer countries.
However, some of these ‘cash cow’ customers may resent subsidizing people they’ve never met or have a personal relationship with.
But other problems arise when the reverse is true. Suppose you charge the customer in poorer countries or areas less based on their presumed socioeconomic status. In that case, they may be outraged if more affluent users use VPNs to get the same benefits.
It can be a tricky line to walk, which means that implementing dynamic pricing can influence a company’s brand and image. It’s not a decision to take lightly.
Dynamic pricing can help businesses to increase their profits and stay competitive in their respective markets. However, it is essential to consider the potential downsides. These include negative consumer perception and eroding brand loyalty.
Ultimately, each business must weigh the benefits and disadvantages of dynamic pricing before implementing it as a strategy for their specific product or service. You should also keep in mind that such tools as VPNs are popular nowadays, and not everything can go according to your plan.