HBR: Lasciate che i clienti si segmentino da soli!


The late Sir Colin Marshall, when he was CEO and chairman at British Airways (BA), knew that success in his business came down to superior value capture. In a 1995 interview with HBR, he summed up the opportunity brilliantly: “You’re always going to be faced with the fact that the great majority of people will buy on price. But even for a seeming commodity such as air travel, an element of the traveling public is willing to pay a slight premium for superior service …. In our case, we’re talking about an average of 5%. On our revenues of £5 billion, however, that 5% translates into an extra £250 million, or $400 million, a year.”

If you’re out to capture more value, one surefire tactic is to figure out a way to charge different prices to customers with different willingness-to-pay (WTP). Economists sometimes call this “price discrimination,” which sounds bad since discriminating against people is generally illegal, not to mention immoral. However, most of us encounter forms of price discrimination frequently that don’t bother us. For example, who begrudges the discounts afforded to senior citizens and students? (Well, all right, I have occasionally felt a tinge as I see my retired neighbors driving much more expensive cars than mine.)

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Prezzo: fa parte della customer experience?

Nota Aicex: usare la leva del prezzo come strategia di differenziazione comporta il fornire una customer experience di basso livello? Sembrerebbe di no…



In a recent discussion about customer experience that had been lively and provocative, the room went silent when the topic of pricing surfaced. That was not surprising, as it’s easy to anticipate that a low point in most customer experiences involves the discussion of prices. Even ads for car dealers have focused on the ways in which they’ve taken trauma and tension out of the purchasing experience, alluding to the industry’s tradition of unpleasantness during price negotiations. And the competitive environment of recent years has probably added to the difficulty that exists in coming to agreement on price. We have all heard quotes like the following. “The only way we got people into our store over the holidays was with massive discounts.” “My customers had to go down market during the recession, and they aren’t moving back up.” “We keep losing share to private labels in the Big Boxes, all due to price.”

While the above challenges are solidly based on reality, making pricing a daunting topic, firms that proactively manage pricing strategy with the right tools in place can produce significant top- and bottom-line results. A point gain in realized prices can yield a much larger proportional improvement in profits. And the evidence is strong that there is a strong correlation between margins and negative customer experiences – and that correlation goes the wrong way. Firms pay a price when the customer experience turns negative when the topic of price arises.

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