Geographical pricing

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Geographical pricing, in marketing, is the practice of modifying a basic list price based on the geographical location of the buyer. It is intended to reflect the costs of shipping to different locations.

There are several types of geographic pricing:

  • FOB origin (Free on Board origin) – The shipping cost from the factory or warehouse is paid by the purchaser. Ownership of the goods is transferred to the buyer as soon as it leaves the point of origin. It can be either the buyer or seller that arranges for the transportation.
  • Uniform delivery pricing – (also called postage stamp pricing) – The same price is charged to all.
  • Zone pricing – Prices increase as shipping distances increase. This is sometimes done by drawing concentric circles on a map with the plant or warehouse at the center and each circle defining the boundary of a price zone. Instead of using circles, irregularly shaped price boundaries can be drawn that reflect geography, population density, transportation infrastructure, and shipping cost. (The term "zone pricing" can also refer to the practice of setting prices that reflect local competitive conditions, i.e., the market forces of supply and demand, rather than actual cost of transportation.)
Zone pricing, as practiced in the gasoline industry in the United States, is the pricing of gasoline based on a complex and secret weighting of factors, such as the number of competing stations, number of vehicles, average traffic flow, population density, and geographic characteristics.
Many businesspeople and economists state that gasoline zone pricing merely reflects the costs of doing business in a complex and volatile marketplace. Critics contend that industry monopoly and the ability to control not only industry-owned "corporate" stations, but locally owned or franchise stations, make zone pricing into an excuse to raise gasoline prices virtually at will. Oil industry representatives contend that while they set wholesale and dealer tank wagon prices, individual dealers are free to see whatever prices they wish and that this practice in itself causes widespread price variations outside industry control.
  • Basing point pricing – Certain cities are designated as basing points. All goods shipped from a given basis point are charged the same amount.
  • Freight-absorption pricing – The seller absorbs all or part of the cost of transportation. This amounts to a price discount, and is used as a promotional tactic.

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