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How to Reap Higher Profits With Dynamic Pricing

Dynamic pricing, in which prices respond to supply and demand pressures in real time or near-real time, has long been used by airlines and hotels. Now dynamic pricing is making inroads in many different sectors including apparel, automobiles, consumer electronics, personal services, telecommunications and second- hand goods. These companies are making use of new findings on dynamic pricing and of increases in data-processing power to raise their average realized prices, thereby increasing revenues and profits.

There are two mechanisms for dynamic pricing: posted prices that customers can see; and price-discovery mechanisms, in which customers determine prices through their own actions. These two mechanisms are employed in seven different forms: yield management (commonly used by airlines), demandbased pricing, three types of auctions, group buying and negotiations. The article describes eight situations for using the various forms of dynamic pricing. An important constraint in employing dynamic pricing is consumers' Latitude of Price Acceptance, which varies for different products and situations and which can be discovered through observation, surveys or analysis of demand elasticities. Customer participation in the pricing process decreases the chances of a consumer backlash. Customers also tend to embrace dynamic pricing in the following situations: where the price reflects intensity of demand for the product, there is communication between the seller and the consumer, and the price difference is explained by a difference in perceived value across channels through which the transaction occurred. The more the seller understands the buying cycles and habits of the customer, the more he is able to manage price margins to the rhythm of the customer's shopping, to segment customers and to develop price discrimination.
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