Why Small Businesses Need To Beware of Loss Leader Pricing Tactics (& How To Do It The Right Way)


The Definition Of A Loss Leader

What is a loss leader? The loss leader market method is time-honored and ubiquitous, and as soon as you know what it looks like, you will see evidence of loss leaders everywhere. When a business prices a popular or flagship product below its worth and consequently encourage sales of higher-valued products, this is loss leading. In order for the strategy to work, purchasers need to spend enough somewhere else on a various product to offset the loss of revenue. Loss leading is about bring in consumers to your store with a low-priced product and attracting them to buy extra items once they exist.

For instance, we see loss leading strategies in supermarkets where milk is positioned at a discount rate in the back of the shop. Throughout the course of the walk to the milk, strategists hope buyers will pick up more pricey items: cereal, cookies, freshly-baked pastries. In the publishing world, book among a series might be cost a loss with the hope that readers will be connected and check out through the series. Game consoles are another product that uses a loss leader techniques to motivate sales. The video game consoles themselves are often cost a loss due to the fact that revenue is made from the sale of specific video games and video gaming devices.

Pros & & Cons Of Using Loss Leader Pricing

Is this strategy right for your business? Here are the benefits and downsides of loss leaders:


  • Increases consumer traffic
  • Develops consumer commitment
  • Provides a cost advantage over the competitors
  • Can purge inventory
  • Promotes other sales


Increases Customer Traffic

A price, specifically an excellent offer on a deserving item, will drive consumers to your store– whether it’s traditional or online. The sheer volume of customers is why the method works; individuals flock to the loss leader item.

Builds Customer Loyalty

If your loss leader method includes bringing consumers back for subsequent and various products (believe games with gaming gadgets or more books in a series), this is a great chance to build brand name commitment. Loss leaders encourage consumers to come back specifically to your shop for the products they need/want.

Gives A Price Advantage Over Competition

Among the factors loss leading is prohibited in Europe and some states in the United States is due to the fact that it is viewed as anti-competitive. It’s true: if you have the resources to take a loss on a product that your competitor may not have the ability to price at a loss, you have an advantage over the competition. Fortune favors the bold, however it likewise prefers those who are already lucky. Big shops like Amazon and Walmart offer loss leaders without danger and in those cases, loss leading is utilized to remove competitors.

Purges Inventory

Possibly you have an excess variety of items in your inventory and you are aiming to move them quickly? Prices them at a loss and after that bundling them with other items is a great method to use the loss leader technique.


Has The Potential To Lose Money

Nevertheless, there are drawbacks, too. If your marketing does not work, you have the potential to lose money. If you can’t assure earnings or sales of other products, taking a substantial loss on any item in your stock could be bad for the bottom-line.

Savvy Shoppers & & Bargain Hunters Won’t Bite (Watch Out For Stockpilers, Too!)

Customers are getting savvier and they can recognize market techniques a mile away. If you have a lot of smart consumers and deal hunters who will not bite on other items and simply buy your loss leader, you may face a problem with earning a profit. Be careful of stockpilers: these are the deal hunters who come en masse to buy you out of loss leaders. These shoppers exist (ever seen the show Extreme Couponers!.?.!?) and they do hurt your earnings margin.

Customers Might Become Conditioned For Cheaper Prices

Another disadvantage is the chance to condition your clients to expect loss leader rates all the time. When the cost returns to typical, customers won’t be incentivized to continue shopping if there isn’t an offer readily available.

The Ethics & Legality Of Using Loss Leader Strategies

Is loss prominent legal? Predatory pricing is illegal, so where is the line between a loss leader marketing method and a predatory pricing method?

In general, it comes down to a service’s size. If a business has the ability to continually take a loss and undercut on a product, removing competition, the practice is unethical and might be unlawful depending upon where you live. The guidelines were made to safeguard small companies from larger companies and box stores that gain from loss leading and can pay for to take a loss. A loss leader technique utilized by a small service for a momentary sale or price promo is not predatory by nature, and possibilities are it is perfectly appropriate. Nevertheless, it’s always crucial to contact a legal representative from your own state to inspect the laws in your location.

(The EU and Australia do have broad restrictions on predatory pricing and loss leaders, so if you do company in these nations, please double-check that your pricing is within ethical and legal requirements.)

3 Tips For Using Loss Leader Pricing The Smart Way

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Don’t do anything unlawful, shady, or unethical. If your marketing strategy is foundationally about hurting another business or deceiving customers, we can only hope you steer back into ethical area; at Merchant Maverick, we’re in business of assisting all companies! Does that mean the loss leader strategy is out totally? No. So, how can you use a loss leader in a wise way?

Here are 3 tips to help you with possible loss leader methods.

Pointer # 1: Know Your Profit Margins

Price your loss leader and the other items in your shop with a best balance. Know your margins and have a particular sales goal in mind. A loss leader sale can fail on several fronts, but if you do not price your items appropriately, you have a higher possibility of losing money to smart buyers and stockpilers. Likewise, a loss leader is a marketing technique and marketing strategy; it is not meant to be utilized full-time on a particular item. (As that would drive the item’s value down permanently.)

Idea # 2: Choose Impulse Items With High Margins & & Display Them Strategically

What can you sell around the loss leader as impulse purchases? Easy. If they’re around a sale on milk, pricey cereals and elegant milk-drinking bendy straws can end up being temptations. Marked down razors are great if there are premium shaving creams and extra blades within grasp. A loss leader that operates without a connection to your other products might result in a loss in profit. What will your loss leader encourage others to buy more of? Place those things within reach.

Idea # 3: Market Items Correctly

Promote your momentary pricing, send newsletters and social networks blasts. Encourage others to share! Your loss leading marketing technique needs bodies, so do not just wait and set the rate for wonderful sales. Discover methods to promote your price and don’t forget to create smart display screens at the point of purchase. Motivate and push consumers to the items with higher margins that opt for your loss leader; you need to help them make the connection that since they are saving money on this one product, they can afford to purchase these three other products, too.

Should You Try Loss Leader Strategies?

It is best to steer clear if loss leading is troublesome or unlawful where you live. However, loss leader techniques do have the opportunity to work for some items and for some companies. With all marketing techniques, in some cases you will require to check out and tinker, assess and run numbers worth. If you do not have an ideal item that combines well with products with greater revenue margins, this technique may not be an excellent bet. However, if you sell something that requires repeat sales (a membership service, books in a series, consumables), loss leading could provide you and your company a good promotional boost.

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