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Another Creative Pricing Scheme

It is not often that you see companies using really unusual pricing to build future business. Here is one that I like.

Every price has three and, usually four, components: the Benefit Package, the Basis of Charge, the List price and usually some Optional Components of price. The Benefit Package includes all of the Function, Reliability and Convenience benefits associated with the main product. The Basis of Charge is the way the company quantifies the unit of sale that it prices with the List Price, which is the stated price per unit of product sold. The Optional Components of price enable the company to leave the List Price unchanged, but to alter the value the company offers the customer by changing Functions, Reliability or Convenience benefits beyond those of the main product. The most creative pricing schemes usually involve the Optional Components of price.

Recently, we described one of these Optional Components of price, a Call, offered by Continental Airlines. In this blog, we will describe a “Put” offered by Best Buy. A Put is an Optional Component of price that enables the customer to sell back a product to the seller at a stated price in the future.

Best Buy recently introduced the Buy-Back program for various electronic gadgets it sells. This program adds a fee to the original List price of the product. In return for that fee, the customer gets the right to bring the product back for up to two years for a return value of a stated percentage of the original List price of the product. These percentages run from 20% to 50%, depending on the time of the return. The value of the return itself comes in the form of a Best Buy gift card. Best Buy hopes the customer will use this gift card to purchase an upgrade on the product that the consumer returns.

This Put may be attractive to consumers concerned about the speed of technological innovation in electronic gadgets. The Put effectively reduces the future price of purchasing a new electronic gadget. It leaves the current List prices and future List prices unchanged. It also increases the odds that Best Buy will be the retailer who delivers the new technologically-advanced product.

Posted 4/20/11

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