Marketing decisions are guided by the overall objectives of the company. While we will discuss this in more detail in the Marketing Planning and Strategy Tutorial, for now it is important to understand that all marketing decisions, including price, work to help achieve company objectives. Corporate objectives can be wide ranging and include different objectives for different functional areas (e.g., objectives for production, human resources, etc). While pricing decisions are influenced by many types of objectives set up for the marketing functional area, there are four key objectives in which price plays a central role. In most situations, only one of these objectives will be followed, though the marketer may have different objectives for different products. The four main marketing objectives affecting price include:
- Return on Investment (ROI) – A firm may set as a marketing objective the requirement that all products attain a certain percentage return on the organization’s spending on marketing the product. This level of return, along with an estimate of sales, will help determine appropriate pricing levels needed to meet the ROI objective.
- Cash Flow – Firms may seek to set prices at a level that will ensure that sales revenue will at least cover product production and marketing costs. This is most likely to occur with new products, where the organizational objectives allow a new product to simply meet its expenses while efforts are made to establish the product in the market. This objective allows the marketer to worry less about product profitability and instead directs energies to building a market for the product.
- Market Share – The pricing decision may be important when the firm has an objective of gaining a hold in a new market or retaining a certain percent of an existing market. For new products under this objective, the price is set artificially low in order to capture a sizeable portion of the market and will be increased as the product becomes more accepted by the target market. For existing products, firms may use price decisions to ensure they retain market share in instances where there is a high level of market competition and competitors who are willing to compete on price.
- Maximize Profits – Older products that appeal to a market that is no longer growing may have a company objective requiring the price be set at a level that optimizes profits. This is often the case when the marketer has little incentive to introduce improvements to the product (see Decline Stage of the Product Life Cycle) and will continue to sell the same product at a price premium for as long as some in the market is willing to buy.