Premium pricing (also called image pricing or prestige pricing) is the practice of keeping the price of one of the products or service artificially high in order to encourage favorable perceptions among buyers, based solely on the price. Premium refers to a segment of a company's brands, products, or services that carry tangible or imaginary surplus value in the upper mid- to high price range. The practice is intended to exploit the tendency for buyers to assume that expensive items enjoy an exceptional reputation or represent exceptional quality and distinction. A premium pricing strategy involves setting the price of a product higher than similar products. This strategy is sometimes also called skim pricing because it is an attempt to “skim the cream” off the top of the market. It is used to maximize profit in areas where customers are happy to pay more, where there are no substitutes for the product, where there are barriers to entering the market or when the seller cannot save on costs by producing at a high volume.
Luxury has a psychological association with premium pricing. The implication for marketing is that consumers are willing to pay more for certain goods and not for others. To the marketer, it means creating a brand equity or value for which the consumer is willing to pay extra. Marketers view luxury as the main factor differentiating a brand in a product category.
The use of premium pricing as either a marketing strategy or a competitive practice depends on certain factors that influence its profitability and sustainability. Such factors include:
- Information asymmetry (e.g., when buyers have no independent basis to test claims of "exceptional quality" for a particular product or service—assuming the concept is well-defined to begin with);
- Market status as a luxury good or a superior good;
- Market dynamics such as the level of competition and entry barriers.
The disadvantages of this pricing strategy include:
- not possible with commodity goods
Premium brands are designed to convey an impression of exclusivity or rarity, especially in the mass markets. Targeted customer groups can be high or average income; especially the latter can be premium-aware but on the lookout for bargains. Frequently, companies will invent different (sub)brands to differentiate their product lines into a premium and a general segment (e.g. Toyota with their Lexus, Prius, and Scion marques). In most ways, the premium segment can be thought of as the contrary or a complement of value brands. The success of a brand is determined by the combination of aforesaid category and the market share. In that sense, the term "premium" replaces the traditional attribute "luxury" although the former can be perceived as less ostentatious.
- Gittings, Christopher (2002). The Advertising Handbook. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-24391-2.
- "Here is How to Position Your Product as a Premium Brand". entrepreneur. 2016.
The best way to position a product as a premium brand is with a high price
- Gerardo A. Dada (2012). "Taking a premium position in the market". Austin AMA / slideshare.
Align prices with Value - You might already have a premium product but you are selling it at a commodity price
- "Prestige Pricing: Pros & Cons and Examples". Inevitable Steps. March 15, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
- Smith, Gordon (1997). Trademark Valuation. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-14112-7.
- "Exclusive, rare, limited, or premium?". thehipperelement.com. 2014.
If you have an unlimited supply, everybody knows that lots of people are using it, and there are no restrictions, that means it’s not exclusive, not rare, and not limited. ... “Premium” is an artificial limit on something that is not actually limited, aimed at people who have higher expectations, and therefore a higher perception of value.
- "Quality or price: What makes a product 'premium'?". mycustomer.com. 2013.
74% are on the hunt for a premium product at a discounted rate and love finding a luxury brand at half the cost
- Vijay Vishwanath and Jonathan Mark (1997). "Your Brand's Best Strategy". Harvard Business Review.
- "Luxury versus Premium - Luxury Detectives". wpp. 2011.