Product Management Dictionary

The Product Management Dictionary: Penetration pricing

Learn about penetration pricing, a common pricing strategy used in product management. This article explains what it is, how it works, and when to use it.

Are you familiar with the concept of penetration pricing? It's a pricing strategy that has been around for quite some time, but it's not always well-understood. In today's article, we're going to take a deep dive into the world of penetration pricing - breaking down what it is, when it makes sense to use it, and how to implement it successfully in your product offerings. Let's get started!

Understanding Penetration Pricing

Penetration pricing is a pricing strategy in which a product is priced lower than competitors' offerings in order to gain a foothold in a new market or to stimulate rapid adoption of the product within an existing market. It is a popular strategy for companies launching new products or entering new markets, as it can help to quickly build market share and establish brand recognition.

Definition and Purpose

Penetration pricing is a type of price skimming that involves offering a low initial price for a new product or service in order to attract consumers. The purpose of this strategy is to entice customers to try out the new product and to generate buzz around it. Once the product has gained some traction and market share, prices can gradually increase to match or exceed competitors' pricing levels.

For example, a new smartphone manufacturer may use penetration pricing to enter a market dominated by established competitors. By offering a lower price for their new product, they can attract customers who are looking for a more affordable option. As the product gains popularity and market share, the manufacturer can gradually increase prices to match or exceed competitors' pricing levels.

Benefits of Penetration Pricing

There are several benefits to using penetration pricing as a pricing strategy. It can help to generate excitement around a new product and to quickly capture market share. By pricing a product lower than competitors, businesses can gain a competitive edge and establish themselves as a leader in the market. Additionally, penetration pricing can be used to deter potential competitors from entering the market, as they may be hesitant to enter if prices are already lower than what they can offer.

Another benefit of penetration pricing is that it can help to create buzz and excitement around a new product. By offering a lower price, businesses can generate interest and attract customers who may not have otherwise considered the product. This can help to build brand recognition and establish a loyal customer base.

Potential Risks and Drawbacks

While there are benefits to using penetration pricing, there are also risks and potential drawbacks. One of the biggest risks is that customers may view the low price as a reflection of poor quality, leading them to be hesitant to try the product or to view it negatively. This can be especially true for luxury or high-end products, where customers may associate a higher price with higher quality.

Additionally, once the price is raised to match competitors' pricing levels, customers may be put off by the sudden increase in price. This can lead to a drop in sales and a loss of market share. Finally, penetration pricing may not be sustainable in the long term, as businesses may struggle to maintain profitability if they are continually pricing products lower than competitors.

Despite these potential risks, penetration pricing can be a highly effective strategy for businesses looking to enter new markets or to launch new products. By carefully considering the benefits and drawbacks of this pricing strategy, businesses can make informed decisions about how to price their products and how to position themselves in the market.

Implementing Penetration Pricing Strategy

Penetration pricing is a pricing strategy that involves setting a low initial price for a new product or service in order to attract customers and gain market share. While this strategy can be risky, it can also be highly effective when implemented correctly. In this article, we will discuss how to implement penetration pricing successfully.

Identifying the Target Market

The first step in implementing penetration pricing is to identify the target market. Who are your potential customers? What are their needs and desires? By carefully analyzing your target market, you can gain a better understanding of the types of products they are willing to purchase and what price points they are willing to pay.

For example, if you are launching a new line of affordable skincare products, your target market may be young adults who are interested in skincare but cannot afford high-end products. By understanding your target market, you can set a price that is attractive to them while still allowing you to make a profit.

Setting the Right Price

Once you've identified your target market, it's time to set the right price for your product. This involves looking at competitors' pricing levels and setting a price that is lower or on par with theirs. It's important to strike a balance between pricing the product low enough to entice customers to try it out while still making a profit. This may require extensive market research and analysis to determine the optimal pricing level.

For example, if your competitors are selling similar skincare products for $50, you may want to set your initial price at $40 to entice customers to try your product. However, you must ensure that this price is still profitable for your business.

Timing and Duration of Penetration Pricing

The timing and duration of your penetration pricing strategy are crucial to its success. The goal is to generate buzz around the product and to quickly build market share, so the timing of the initial launch is important. Additionally, the duration of the low pricing should be carefully considered - it needs to be long enough to entice customers to try the product but not so long that profits are severely impacted.

For example, if you are launching your skincare line in the summer, you may want to offer a discounted price for the first three months to capitalize on the increased demand for skincare products during this season. However, you must ensure that the discounted price does not last too long and negatively impact your profits.

Promoting the Penetration Pricing Offer

Finally, it's important to effectively promote the penetration pricing offer to potential customers. This can be done through a variety of marketing channels, including social media, email marketing, and advertising. By effectively communicating the benefits of the product and the low pricing offer, businesses can entice customers to give the product a try.

For example, you could create social media posts showcasing the benefits of your skincare products and the discounted price, or send out an email campaign to your target market highlighting the limited-time offer. By effectively promoting your offer, you can increase awareness of your product and drive sales.

In conclusion, implementing a successful penetration pricing strategy requires careful planning and execution. By identifying your target market, setting the right price, timing and duration of the offer, and promoting the offer effectively, you can attract customers and gain market share for your product or service.

Penetration Pricing vs. Other Pricing Strategies

Now that we've explored the ins and outs of penetration pricing as a pricing strategy, let's compare it to other commonly used pricing strategies.

Skimming Pricing

Skimming pricing is a pricing strategy in which a product is initially priced high and then gradually reduced over time. This strategy is commonly used for products that have a high degree of uniqueness or that appeal to a niche market. Skimming pricing can help to maximize profits and create exclusivity around the product.

For example, Apple often uses skimming pricing for their new product releases. They price their products high initially, which creates a sense of exclusivity and luxury around the product. As time goes on and newer models are released, the price gradually decreases, making the product more accessible to a wider range of customers.

Competitive Pricing

Competitive pricing involves setting prices based on competitors' pricing levels. This strategy is commonly used for products that are similar to competitors' offerings. By keeping prices on par with competitors, businesses can maintain market share and avoid losing customers to lower-priced options.

For example, gas stations often use competitive pricing. If one gas station in an area lowers their prices, other nearby gas stations will likely follow suit to remain competitive and avoid losing customers.

Value-Based Pricing

Value-based pricing involves setting prices based on the perceived value of the product to the customer. This strategy is commonly used for products that offer unique benefits or features that are not available from competitors' offerings. By pricing the product based on the perceived value to the customer, businesses can maximize profits and capture market share.

For example, luxury car brands often use value-based pricing. They price their cars high because they offer unique features and benefits that are not available in other cars. Customers are willing to pay the higher price because they perceive the value of the product to be worth it.

Cost-Plus Pricing

Cost-plus pricing involves pricing a product based on the cost to produce it, plus a markup for profit. This strategy is commonly used for products that have a high degree of consistency and stability in production costs. By setting prices based on production costs, businesses can ensure profitability while still remaining competitive.

For example, a bakery might use cost-plus pricing for their cakes. They calculate the cost of ingredients and labor, then add a markup for profit. This ensures that they make a profit on each cake they sell, while still remaining competitive with other bakeries in the area.

Real-World Examples of Penetration Pricing

So, what does penetration pricing look like in the real world? Let's take a closer look at some successful penetration pricing cases.

Successful Penetration Pricing Cases

One of the most successful examples of penetration pricing is Amazon's pricing strategy for its Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. When AWS was initially launched, Amazon priced it significantly lower than competitors' offerings, quickly gaining market share and establishing itself as a leader in the cloud computing market. Another successful example is Uber's initial pricing strategy, which was priced significantly lower than traditional taxi services, quickly gaining traction and market share.

Lessons Learned from Failed Penetration Pricing Attempts

It's important to also consider failed penetration pricing attempts in order to learn from them. One failed example is J.C. Penney's attempt to offer everyday low prices by eliminating sales and discounts. This strategy was not well-received by consumers, who saw the low prices as a reflection of poor quality and ultimately resulted in lower sales and profits for the company.


Penetration pricing is a powerful pricing strategy that can help businesses quickly gain market share and establish themselves as leaders in new or existing markets. By carefully considering the target market, setting the right price, timing and promoting the offer effectively, businesses can successfully implement penetration pricing to drive sales and growth. However, it's important to carefully consider the potential risks and drawbacks associated with the strategy and to continually monitor its effectiveness over time.