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 technique is common and time-honored, and once you know what it looks like, you will see evidence of loss leaders all over. When an organisation costs a popular or flagship product below its value and consequently motivate sales of higher-valued products, this is loss leading. In order for the technique to work, buyers need to spend adequate elsewhere on a various item to offset the loss of profit. Loss leading is about bring in customers to your shop with a low-priced product and attracting them to purchase extra products once they exist.

For instance, we see loss leading strategies in grocery stores where milk is positioned at a discount rate in the back of the shop. During the course of the walk to the milk, strategists hope shoppers will get more pricey products: cereal, cookies, freshly-baked pastries. In the publishing world, book one of a series might be cost a loss with the hope that readers will be hooked and check out the series. Video game consoles are another product that utilizes a loss leader methods to encourage sales. The video game consoles themselves are frequently cost a loss due to the fact that earnings is made from the sale of private video games and video gaming devices.

Pros & & Cons Of Using Loss Leader Pricing

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


  • Increases customer traffic
  • Constructs client commitment
  • Gives a cost advantage over the competitors
  • Can purge stock
  • Promotes other sales

The loss leader market method is common and time-honored, and once you know what it looks like, you will see evidence of loss leaders everywhere. If your loss leader method includes bringing consumers back for subsequent and various items (believe games with video gaming devices or more books in a series), this is a great chance to build brand loyalty. It’s real: if you have the resources to take a loss on a product that your competitor might not be able to rate at a loss, you have an advantage over the competition. The rules were made to secure little organisations from larger businesses and box shops that benefit from loss leading and can pay for to take a loss. A loss leader that works without a connection to your other items might result in a loss in profit.


  • An opportunity of lost earnings
  • Smart shoppers/bargain hunters will not bite
  • Clients end up being conditioned for more affordable rates


Increases Customer Traffic

A list price, especially a lot on a worthwhile product, will drive customers to your shop– whether it’s traditional or online. The sheer volume of customers is why the strategy works; people flock to the loss leader product.

Constructs Customer Loyalty

If your loss leader technique includes bringing customers back for various and subsequent items (think video games with video gaming devices or more books in a series), this is a terrific chance to build brand name loyalty. Loss leaders motivate customers to come back particularly to your shop for the items they need/want.

Offers A Price Advantage Over Competition

Because it is seen as anti-competitive, one of the reasons loss leading is prohibited in Europe and some states in the US is. It’s true: if you have the resources to take a loss on an item that your competitor might not have the ability to price at a loss, you have an advantage over the competition. Fortune favors the strong, but it also favors those who are already lucky. Big shops like Amazon and Walmart provide loss leaders without risk and in those cases, loss leading is used to eliminate competition.

Purges Inventory

Perhaps you have an excess number of products in your stock and you are wanting to move them quickly? Rates them at a loss and then bundling them with other products is a great way to use the loss leader method.


Has The Potential To Lose Money

Nevertheless, there are downsides, too. If your marketing doesn’t work, you have the possible to lose cash. If you can’t promise profit or sales of other items, taking a substantial loss on any item in your inventory might be bad for the fundamental.

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

Customers are getting savvier and they can recognize market methods 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 might face an issue with earning a profit. Beware of stockpilers: these are the deal hunters who come en masse to purchase you out of loss leaders. These shoppers exist (ever seen the program Extreme Couponers!.?.!?) and they do injure your profit margin.

Clients Might Become Conditioned For Cheaper Prices

Another drawback is the chance to condition your consumers to expect loss leader costs all the time. Once the price returns to typical, clients will not be incentivized to continue shopping if there isn’t an offer offered.

The Ethics & Legality Of Using Loss Leader Strategies

Is loss leading legal? Predatory pricing is unlawful, so where is the line in between a loss leader marketing technique and a predatory prices method?

In general, it boils down to a company’s size. If a service is able to continuously damage and take a loss on an item, eliminating competition, the practice is dishonest and might be unlawful depending on where you live. The guidelines were made to protect small companies from larger services and box shops that take advantage of loss leading and can manage to take a loss. A loss leader technique utilized by a small service for a short-term sale or rate promo is not predatory by nature, and possibilities are it is completely appropriate. It’s always crucial to examine with a legal agent from your own state to inspect the laws in your area.

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

3 Tips For Using Loss Leader Pricing The Smart Way

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Don’t do anything prohibited, dubious, or dishonest. If your marketing technique is foundationally about hurting another business or fooling consumers, we can only hope you steer back into ethical territory; at Merchant Maverick, we’re in business of helping all companies! Does that indicate the loss leader technique is out completely? No. So, how can you use a loss leader in a wise method?

Here are 3 pointers to assist you with potential loss leader strategies.

Idea # 1: Know Your Profit Margins

Cost your loss leader and the other products in your store with a perfect balance. Know your margins and have a specific sales goal in mind. A loss leader sale can stop working on several fronts, however if you do not price your products accordingly, you have a greater possibility of losing money to smart shoppers and stockpilers. Likewise, a loss leader is a marketing tactic and marketing strategy; it is not meant to be used full-time on a particular product. (As that would drive the item’s worth down completely.)

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

What can you sell around the loss leader as impulse buys? Easy. If they’re around a sale on milk, costly cereals and elegant milk-drinking bendy straws can become temptations. Discounted razors are excellent if there are superior shaving creams and additional blades within grasp. A loss leader that operates without a connection to your other products could result in a loss in revenue. What will your loss leader motivate others to purchase more of? Location those things within reach.

Pointer # 3: Market Items Correctly

Promote your short-term prices, send newsletters and social media blasts. Motivate others to share! Your loss leading marketing method requires bodies, so do not simply set the price and wait for wonderful sales. Find methods to promote your price and don’t forget to produce wise display screens at the point of purchase. Motivate and push customers to the items with greater margins that opt for your loss leader; you have to help them make the connection that since they are saving money on this one product, they can manage to buy these 3 other items, too.

Should You Try Loss Leader Strategies?

It is best to steer clear if loss leading is troublesome or prohibited where you live. Nevertheless, loss leader methods do have the opportunity to work for some items and for some business. With all marketing techniques, often you will need to tinker and explore, run numbers and assess value. This technique might not be a great bet if you do not have an ideal item that combines well with goods with greater revenue margins. If you sell something that calls for repeat sales (a membership service, books in a series, consumables), loss leading could provide you and your business a good promotional increase.

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