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Navigating the intricacies of costing and pricing strategies


In the fast-paced world of business, the concepts of pricing and costing strategies are both crucial in business management but serve different purposes that involve different processes and addresses different aspects of the business model. Understanding the distinction between the two strategies is key to effective financial management and strategic planning.

Pricing strategies

A pricing strategy is used by businesses to determine the best price for their products or services. It is not just about finding a middle ground between making a product desirable to customers and profitable for companies but also to send a message regarding the value proposition of a product or service and positioning a brand in the market.

Pricing strategies further involve the different approaches that businesses take to figure out what the cost of their goods and services should be. To choose the appropriate pricing strategy, businesses should consider factors such as current product demand, production costs, cost of goods sold, consumer behaviour, customer value perception and market conditions. The chosen strategy directly impacts a product’s profitability, competitive edge, and market position.

One of the biggest challenges for small to medium business owners is deciding on how to price their products and services. With so many types of pricing strategies available, how do you decide which one is best for your business? If the price is right, you can boost your bottom line and capture new customers, however if the price is wrong, you risk missing out on sales.

The purpose of pricing strategies

The primary purpose and goal of employing a pricing strategy is to optimise sales and maximise profits while ensuring customer satisfaction and a competitive advantage. To achieve such, the approach is externally focused on how the product or service is positioned in the market and how price can influence sales and brand perception. Adopting the most appropriate pricing strategy can assist in:

-Maximising Profits: Finding the price point that yields the highest return considering the cost and the market demand.

-Market penetration: To enter a new market and attract customers from competitors, a lower price point can be applied.

-Brand positioning: Positioning the brand in the consumer’s mind, prices should reflect the quality or exclusivity of a product.

-Customer retention: Through dynamic pricing, considering both cost and value, businesses can adjust prices to attract and retain customers and respond to market changes.

Costing strategies

In an increasingly competitive business landscape, businesses need to concentrate on managing costs strategically, applying the methods and approaches businesses use to manage, reduce, or control their costs, with the aim of enhancing their profitability and competitive edge if they want to keep making profits and adding value for their shareholders.

Cost strategies play a pivotal role in helping businesses optimise their resources and reduce expenses. To improve their overall financial health, companies should manage their costs effectively as it is the cornerstone for sustaining growth and securing a market position. Cost strategies require a planned approach, encompassing various tactics and methodologies to minimising the costs associated with business operations, production, and other activities without compromising on quality or customer satisfaction.

The purpose of cost strategies

To enhance a business’s financial performance and competitive standing businesses can adopt different cost strategies which could be driven by several objectives, all of which are aimed at enhancing the overall profitability of the organisation.

-Improving profit margins: Businesses can improve their profit margins, by reducing operational costs which allows for reinvesting in growth or offering competitive pricing.

-Enhancing competitive advantage: By applying a cost leadership approach, businesses can become the lowest-cost producer in the industry which can provide a competitive advantage in price-sensitive markets, enabling them to attract price-conscious customers.

-Ensuring sustainability: In order to maintain financial health and sustain operations during tough economic times, businesses would need to apply effective cost management.

-Facilitating strategic investments: Cost strategies that derive cost savings, can be redirected towards strategic investments in innovation, marketing, growth and or new products.

What is the difference between a costing and a pricing strategy?

A costing strategy deals with determining the total costs involved in the production of goods or services, which requires the investment of a certain amount of time and resources. It includes the calculation of all expenses incurred, such as raw materials, labour, transportation, overhead, and any other direct and or indirect costs by understanding where money is spent in the process of manufacturing a product or delivering a service to the market, which will assist in cost-saving opportunities and making informed decisions about pricing, investment, and operational adjustments.

A pricing strategy, on the other hand, involves setting the right price for a product or service based on various external and internal factors, considering the cost of production, market demand, brand positioning and knowing the competition. It is used to convey value to customers, penetrate or capture market share, and achieve financial objectives.

Not everyone can afford to pay the same price for a product and in applying differential pricing strategies and calculating the ease and speed of cost covering, will allow for increased sales volumes. Businesses thus need to compile an optimal price that meets both the customers’ expectations and the business revenue goals.

Key differences

-Orientation: Costing is about understanding and managing internal production costs in manufacturing a product, while pricing is about market positioning and revenue generation.

-Objective: Costing aims to minimise costs to maximise margins, whereas pricing aims to set a price that maximises profits and meets customer’s expectations.

-Focus area: Costing focuses on the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of internal processes, while pricing focuses on market dynamics, customer perception, value creation and the competition. Costing strategies are foundational and internally focused, aimed at understanding and controlling the cost of production, whilst pricing strategies focuses on leveraging that cost, understanding, and combining it with market insights to set prices that achieve strategic business goals for sustainability and profitability.

Adopting a well-executed cost management strategy is crucial for businesses aiming to thrive in competitive markets, whilst selecting the right pricing strategy is a powerful lever for a business’s success and as markets evolve, so do costing and pricing strategies, making it imperative for businesses to stay agile and responsive to market dynamics.

Linda Rossouw is the Founder and Managing Director of LaRoss Consulting. She is highly qualified and experienced in finance and other business matters. She is passionate about finding solutions and helping people and businesses to transform.