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


The loss leader market strategy is time-honored and ubiquitous, and once you understand what it looks like, you will see evidence of loss leaders everywhere. If your loss leader strategy involves bringing customers back for different and subsequent items (think video games with gaming devices or more books in a series), this is an excellent chance to construct brand commitment. It’s real: if you have the resources to take a loss on an item that your competitor might not be able to price at a loss, you have an advantage over the competition. The guidelines were made to protect small services from bigger organisations and box shops that benefit from loss leading and can afford to take a loss. A loss leader that operates without a connection to your other items might result in a loss in earnings.

The Definition Of A Loss Leader

What is a loss leader? The loss leader market technique is time-honored and common, and as soon as you understand what it appears like, you will see proof of loss leaders all over. When an organisation costs a popular or flagship product below its worth and subsequently motivate sales of higher-valued items, this is loss leading. In order for the technique to work, purchasers need to spend sufficient in other places on a various product to offset the loss of earnings. Loss leading has to do with bring in customers to your shop with a low-priced product and enticing them to purchase extra items once they are there.

For example, we see loss leading strategies in supermarkets where milk is placed at a discount rate in the back of the shop. Throughout the course of the walk to the milk, strategists hope consumers will get more expensive items: cereal, cookies, freshly-baked pastries. In the publishing world, book one of a series may be offered at 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 motivate sales. The video game consoles themselves are frequently sold at a loss since revenue is made from the sale of individual games and gaming accessories.

Pros & & Cons Of Using Loss Leader Pricing

Is this technique right for your company? Here are the advantages and disadvantages of loss leaders:


  • Boosts customer traffic
  • Builds customer loyalty
  • Offers a price benefit over the competition
  • Can purge inventory
  • Promotes other sales


  • An opportunity of lost revenue
  • Smart shoppers/bargain hunters won’t bite
  • Clients end up being conditioned for less expensive rates


Increases Customer Traffic

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

Builds Customer Loyalty

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

Gives A Price Advantage Over Competition

Due to the fact that it is seen as anti-competitive, one of the reasons loss leading is prohibited in Europe and some states in the United States is. It’s real: if you have the resources to take a loss on an item that your competitor might not be able to cost at a loss, you have an advantage over the competitors. Fortune prefers the bold, however it likewise favors those who are already lucky. Big shops like Amazon and Walmart offer loss leaders without threat and in those cases, loss leading is used to get rid of competition.

Purges Inventory

Perhaps you have an excess number of products in your inventory and you are seeking to move them fast? Prices them at a loss and after that bundling them with other products is an excellent way to utilize the loss leader strategy.


Has The Potential To Lose Money

Nevertheless, there are disadvantages, too. You have the prospective to lose money if your marketing doesn’t work. If you can’t guarantee profit or sales of other items, taking a big loss on any product in your stock 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 acknowledge market techniques a mile away. If you have a bunch of savvy consumers and deal hunters who won’t bite on other items and simply purchase your loss leader, you might run into a problem with making an earnings. Beware of stockpilers: these are the bargain hunters who come en masse to buy you out of loss leaders. These shoppers exist (ever seen the program Extreme Couponers!.?.!?) and they do harm your earnings margin.

Clients Might Become Conditioned For Cheaper Prices

Another drawback is the opportunity to condition your clients to expect loss leader prices all the time. Once the cost go back to regular, consumers will not be incentivized to continue going shopping if there isn’t a deal offered.

The Ethics & Legality Of Using Loss Leader Strategies

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

In basic, it comes down to a business’s size. If an organisation is able to continually undercut and take a loss on an item, getting rid of competitors, the practice is dishonest and might be illegal depending on where you live. The guidelines were made to secure small companies from bigger companies and box shops that gain from loss leading and can afford to take a loss. A loss leader method used by a little company for a momentary sale or price promotion is not predatory by nature, and opportunities are it is completely appropriate. However, it’s always essential to contact a legal representative from your own state to check the laws in your area.

(The EU and Australia do have broad bans on predatory rates and loss leaders, so if you do service in these nations, 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 illegal, dubious, or unethical. If your marketing strategy 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 the organisation of assisting all organisations! Does that suggest the loss leader technique is out completely? No. How can you use a loss leader in a clever method?

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

Suggestion # 1: Know Your Profit Margins

Rate your loss leader and the other products in your store with an ideal balance. Know your margins and have a specific sales goal in mind. A loss leader sale can fail on several fronts, but if you do not price your items accordingly, you have a higher chance of losing cash to savvy shoppers and stockpilers. Also, a loss leader is a marketing tactic and promotional technique; it is not planned to be used full-time on a specific item. (As that would drive the product’s value 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, pricey cereals and expensive milk-drinking bendy straws can become temptations. If there are premium shaving creams and additional blades within grasp, marked down razors are fantastic. A loss leader that works without a connection to your other products might result in a loss in earnings. What will your loss leader encourage others to purchase more of? Place those things within reach.

Tip # 3: Market Items Correctly

Promote your momentary prices, send out newsletters and social networks blasts. Motivate others to share! Your loss leading marketing method requires bodies, so do not just wait and set the price for wonderful sales. Discover methods to promote your price and do not forget to develop smart screens at the point of purchase. Motivate and push consumers to the products with higher margins that go with your loss leader; you have to help them make the connection that given that they are saving on this one product, they can pay for to buy these three other products, too.

Should You Try Loss Leader Strategies?

If loss leading is troublesome or illegal where you live, it is best to guide clear. However, loss leader methods do have the opportunity to work for some items and for some business. With all marketing techniques, in some cases you will need to check out and play, run numbers and examine value. This method may not be a great bet if you do not have an ideal item that pairs well with products with greater earnings margins. If you offer something that calls for repeat sales (a membership service, books in a series, consumables), loss leading could provide you and your company a great marketing boost.

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