premium-pricing-strategy

Premium Pricing Strategy

The premium pricing strategy involves a company setting a price for its products that exceeds similar products offered by competitors.

Understanding premium pricing strategies

Premium pricing strategies are used to elevate the perception of a brand or product among consumers.

To justify a price that exceeds those of competitor products, marketers aim to illustrate the quality of a product or the experience associated with using it.

Whether or not the product is indeed superior to the competition depends on the situation and is sometimes hotly debated.

Boutique carmakers who sell handmade cars using only the finest materials have an obvious quality advantage over a vehicle manufactured on an assembly line.

But in cases where the difference between the premium product and its cheaper equivalent is less obvious, businesses employ a coordinated marketing strategy to give an impression of quality. 

Premium pricing strategies tend to work best when:

  • Customers perceive the item to be “luxurious” in quality or design.
  • Strong barriers to entry exist. For instance, the company may possess a large marketing budget, a brand reputation for durability, or an unbeatable warranty policy.
  • The amount of product sold is restricted either intentionally or otherwise. This taps into the scarcity heuristic where consumers attribute more value to rarer products.
  • There are no equivalent product substitutes.
  • The product or its technology is protected by patents and other intellectual property.

Premium pricing strategy examples

Here are a few examples of companies that use the premium price strategy.

Salesforce

Salesforce is one of many SaaS companies that uses premium prices to its advantage. 

Prices for the company’s sales cloud software from $25 per user per month under the Essentials plan to $300 per user under the Unlimited plan.

The latter is a premium product because the company makes the differences between it and cheaper plans obvious.

Salesforce also utilizes free trial periods on all its plans to build the sort of brand equity that the premium pricing strategy relies on.

Apple

When the iPhone was first released, Apple could charge a premium price because it owned the technology and was the only smartphone producer on the market.

Despite new entrants in recent years reducing the company’s total addressable market, Apple continues to sell its products for a premium.

When raving fans camp overnight or queue in the street for a new release, one can appreciate that Apple’s premium pricing strategy is driven by more than quality or innovative technology. 

Indeed, superior brand equity also drives premium prices.

In other words, the ability to enjoy everything from the sleek and intuitive design of the product to the experience of visiting an Apple Store and receiving excellent customer support.

Nespresso

Nespresso’s premium pricing strategy is based on its first-mover advantage in the coffee cup industry. Like Apple, Nespresso’s brick-and-mortar stores are experiences in themselves.

With most consumers associating the purchase of coffee with a bland supermarket, the company designed its stores to look more like those of a luxury fashion retailer.

This brand equity is reinforced by the Nespresso Club, a personalized members-only service offering expert advice from coffee specialists, coffee machine troubleshooting, and free delivery, among other perks.

Key takeaways

  • The premium pricing strategy involves a company setting a price for its products that exceeds similar products offered by competitors.
  • Premium pricing strategies tend to work best when there is a general perception of luxury among consumers. They also work well when the number of products is limited or when there are patents or IP in place.
  • Proponents of the premium pricing strategy include Salesforce, Apple, and Nespresso, with the latter two relying on high brand equity to sell their products at premium prices.

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