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A Price Leader Market and Competitor

In StrategyStreet terms, a competitor or product that offers below industry standard performance for a very low price is a Price Leader. Price Leaders contrast with the typical industry leaders who set standards for the industry, called Standard Leaders in our terms. The competitors or products at the higher end of the market are called Performance Leaders.

The Price Leader’s product has fewer benefits than Standard Leader products. Because the Price Leaders are able to save costs, their product prices average 25% to 50% below the Standard Leader’s price. Because their products do offer less than the Standard Leader product, Price Leaders, as a group, have relatively small market shares, usually less than 15% of industry sales. (See the Perspective, “Why Do Leaders Lead?” on StrategyStreet.com.)

We have analyzed several hundred Price Leaders and found that we could group them into two types, Predators and Strippers. Predators offer the user of the product Functions similar to those of the Standard Leader products but less Reliability because they sell brand names that are unknown. They offer the user equivalent benefits but the purchaser fewer benefits. Strippers offer fewer benefits to both the user and the purchaser of the product. The printer ink industry offers good examples of our Price Leader findings. The total printer ink industry has sales of nearly $22 billion a year. Something just below $3 billion of this is owned by Price Leader competitors, who refill or remanufacture ink cartridges. These Price Leaders, as a group, have 13.5% of the total market.

Most of these Price Leader competitors are Strippers. (See the Perspective, “Attention K-Mart Copiers” on StrategyStreet.com.) Customers who buy their products are often dissatisfied. In fact, only about half of the customers who try the Price Leader product are satisfied with it.

One of these Price Leader competitors, Cartridge World, is in the Predator category of Price Leader competitors. Cartridge World is a leader in the cartridge refill and remanufacturing industry. As a general rule, the company prices its laser cartridges at 25% off of the cost of a new brand named cartridge. Its ink jet cartridges come with discounts of 30% compared to a new brand named cartridge. Its Function benefits are the same as the Standard Leader products. It offers less Reliability due to its unknown brand name. But, Cartridge World puts a 100% guarantee on its products and offers relatively high levels of customer service. As a result, the company is experiencing growth rates of 20% per annum, while its competitors grow at a much slower pace.

Posted 1/6/11

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