The Ten Things Home Improvement Companies Need to Know About Pricing
The home improvement industry has for the most part been enjoying robust growth during the Covid 19 Pandemic as people spent more time indoors and around the house. The list of thriving companies encompasses many types of businesses including flooring, home repair, patio, pool supplies and maintenance, windows and doors as well as home entertainment. The question for many is how sustainable current growth is and how can they optimize sales and bottom-line profit. Given that just a 3% increase in price can boost the net profit of a typical company by 30% or more, evaluating key price points (i.e. price walls) and better understanding your product pricing parameters would appear to make perfect sense. Atenga Insights has performed pricing studies for many home improvements companies and the following is a collection of category insights from this body of work.
1. Make sure you know how your customers are gauging the overall price of your product or service and evaluating you versus competition. This of course varies by industry; in flooring its price per square foot; in paint it’s price per gallon and in pool cleaning it’s often a fixed monthly charge. But of course, it’s more complicated than that including possible delivery cost, guarantees, installation time. Pricing research can show how different types of customers value each element in determining the overall value of your product or service versus competition.
2. Know the price walls for your category. Surprisingly unit volume is not always in a perfect direct inverse relationship to price at every step in the pricing continuum. “Price walls” are set price points where unit volume drops measurably if the wall is exceeded and conversely unit sales will stabilize as the price wall is approached. For instance, let’s say a key price wall for flooring is $4.99 per square foot. A flooring that sets a price at $4.50 may be leaving a significant sum of money on the table, while another that prices its product at $5.25 may experience a significant revenue shortfall versus a price of $4.99. You need to know the precise position for the price walls in your category.
3. Determining your most compelling product attribute will help you to identify your optimal price point. To stand out from the competition it’s crucial, your USP, your unique selling proposition that leverages your most important brand benefits, resonates with your target audience. Pricing research can help you determine the optimal brand attribute and the precise messaging to secure the highest price and sales volume.
4. Price connotes quality and too low a price can and will impact your brand. There is a big difference between having a value proposition versus being viewed as a cheap, low ball brand. Studies show that 9 times of 10 companies err in having too low a price to the long-term detriment of the business. Pricing research can help value marketers from going so low it fatally impacts your brand image. Remember most manufacturers and service companies that try to succeed on low price alone are usually doomed to fail. Don’t go too low!
5. A one size fits all marketing approach seldom succeeds especially in a mature category. Knowing which market segments to focus on and how to optimize your appeal and your customers willingness to pay is important in building your business. The home improvement industry is made up of several customer sectors reaching from value shoppers to those who want a high-end white glove service. Pricing research can help you understand how best to assemble a specific service offering and price to appeal to the various customer silos in your industry and guide you to your highest profit potential.
6. Appreciate that price is your biggest profit lever. At the end of the day there are only three ways to increase your bottom-line profitability: 1) sell more units; 2) cut costs or 3) optimize pricing by measuring your prospects willingness to pay. Of the three profit inducing options nothing has a bigger impact on the bottom line as finding your optimal price point; that small 3–5% price increase may not be noticeable to the customer but could mean success or failure for your business. Don’t leave money on the table!
7. A cost-plus pricing strategy generally equates to less profit. Optimal pricing is based on what the customer is willing to pay, not your cost of goods. For too long many companies have taken a cost-plus approach to pricing when in fact, as far as the customer is concerned, one has relatively little to do with the other. The variables that go into what price point your prospects are willing to pay include the market segment you are focused on, and the product benefits you emphasize, not your cost of goods.
8. A “good, better, best” pricing strategy can help you improve perceived value. Anybody who has considered buying an Apple Watch is familiar with Apple’s better, best pricing strategy. Apple sells its mainstream watches for around $400 but it also offers a super-premium watch for well over a $1,000. For most of us the $400 watch does just fine but the expensive $1k + version conditions us to thinking we are getting a deal in paying “just” $400 for a watch. Use a price anchor!
9. Why a “money back guarantee” works best when competing against a dominant competitor. Every investment or product purchase represents a risk/reward proposition for the customer and this is especially true for an offering from a new company or an industry upstart. Generally speaking the more a company can reduce the perceived risk of a product, the higher it can raise its price. Only a very small percentage of customers actually hold companies accountable for money back guarantee offers but their presence can significantly lower the perceived risk.
10. Don’t let your sales team have the final say on pricing decisions. Good salespeople are often aggressive “alpha dogs” and generally speaking are particularly persuasive in championing their viewpoints (i.e. touting unit sales versus profit). They tend to believe that the lower the price the more product they will sell and that’s often, but not always true as the above discussion about price walls suggests. For sure get the written input of your front-line sales team but be aware that their input can often be self-serving (i.e. many quotas are based on unit sales) and even unwittingly detrimental to the long-term health of your business. Let pricing research lead you to a data driven decision!
10a. Consider selling a white glove service direct to your customers. Retailers do a good job of selling to the masses but you can’t expect retailers to know more than one or two of the most pertinent benefits of your brand. Moreover, those same retailers do not want you to undercut their prices. Often the best option to reach your highest profit customers is to make a direct white glove offering that significantly exceeds the street price of your product but may include a higher level of service or additional product options.
About the Author
Robert Tinterov is the CEO of one of the leading global pricing companies, Atenga Insights, which is headquartered in Sweden with a US office in Southern California. The company has performed almost a thousand, different in-depth pricing research projects worldwide including some of the leading names in home improvements as well as promising upstarts. You can reach him on email email@example.com or visiting www.atenga.com