+61 2 8607 7001
Level 8, 65 York Street Sydney 2000

Blog Post

disadvantages of cost plus pricing

Disadvantages Of Cost Plus Pricing Strategy In Consumer Behaviour Psychology 🌋


Presently, a significant number of Australians are raising inquiries about the sudden upsurge in living expenses. A particular viewpoint asserts that the demand for various products and services has outstripped the economy’s capacity to provide them, leading businesses to opt for price hikes. While this assertion holds validity, it merely scratches the surface. And small enterprises, that are inclined towards simplistic cost plus pricing models, ignoring the disadvantages, may be inadvertently sidelining a cluster of critical determinants. 


>Download Now: Free PDF How To Drive Pricing Strategy To Accelerate Sales & EBIT Growth


Cost-plus pricing, while seemingly straightforward, poses several disadvantages for small businesses. Relying solely on cost recovery fails to account for market dynamics and consumer perceptions, potentially leading to overpricing or underpricing. Such an approach lacks the flexibility to adapt to competitive forces, limiting businesses’ ability to seize opportunities or navigate challenges swiftly. Moreover, it disregards the value proposition, hindering differentiation and brand building. In today’s dynamic landscape, where pricing intricacies and customer-centricity reign, a rigid cost-plus model can undermine a small business’s competitiveness, profitability, and long-term growth prospects.


In this article, we will explore the transition that small enterprises can undertake from employing cost-plus pricing techniques to embracing value-based pricing strategies. Initially, we will delve into the disadvantages of relying on cost plus pricing models for small businesses, particularly during periods of high prices. Subsequently, we will present a comprehensive pricing methodology that harmonises supply, demand, and consumer perception. We argue that small businesses should abandon cost-plus pricing mechanisms in favour of more strategic and value-oriented approaches.


At Value Culture, we believe that value-based pricing is advantageous for both small businesses and their clientele. By the end, you will be equipped with the knowledge needed to establish a more effective and sustainable pricing strategy, capable of weathering fluctuations in customer trends, especially in times of elevated living costs.


Disadvantages Of Cost Plus Pricing To Price Perceptions And Consumer Shopping Behaviour


While supply and demand are undeniably crucial determinants of pricing, a more comprehensive perspective reveals that other intricate factors wield substantial influence on price dynamics. For instance, most pricing experts, including us, will tell you that psychology played a significant role in the post-pandemic price spike. It wasn’t what started it, but it certainly made it larger than it could have been. 


The pandemic’s supply delays and the Ukraine war’s disruptions to fossil fuel and food supplies gave a solid rationale for large price increases. Economic crises can induce a shift in consumer attitudes. When faced with economic uncertainty, consumers might be more accepting of price increases if they believe these adjustments are necessary for businesses to weather the crisis and maintain quality standards.


Economic downturns can reshape consumer perceptions of value and affordability. For instance, during a recession, consumers might become more accepting of price increases for essential goods and services due to a sense of necessity or reduced options. Furthermore, crises can instil a heightened awareness of scarcity and urgency, which might lead consumers to tolerate higher prices in exchange for securing goods or services.


On top of that, as it became evident to the media that significant price increases were on the way, they made grandiose predictions about price inflation. The media plays a pivotal role in shaping consumer expectations and reactions to pricing. Through various channels, such as advertisements and news reports, the media can influence consumer sentiment toward price changes. 


A well-communicated justification for a price increase, backed by compelling narratives or explanations, can sway consumers to understand and accept the need for higher prices. Moreover, media coverage of economic conditions can indirectly condition consumers to anticipate and adjust to changing price environments, fostering a level of tolerance.


Discussion On Disadvantages Of Cost Plus Pricing


While all of the media coverage of impending price rises may have softened consumers, there is no way they will entirely eliminate resistance to high prices. There will come a time when existing economic trends will not be sufficient to persuade customers to tolerate inflated prices. Now, this is an uncomfortable reminder for those practising cost-plus pricing.


What are the disadvantages of cost plus pricing for small businesses?


Cost-plus pricing can pose significant challenges for small businesses, especially during periods of elevated living costs. Here are three key reasons why this pricing strategy may be detrimental:


Disadvantages Of Cost Plus Pricing #1: Limited Flexibility


Small businesses employing cost-plus pricing might find themselves constrained by a rigid pricing structure. When faced with surging living costs, this approach fails to account for the dynamic nature of market fluctuations. Consequently, the business may struggle to adjust its prices quickly, potentially leading to reduced competitiveness and customer attrition.


For instance, a small boutique bakery that employs cost-plus pricing to set the prices for its cakes. During a period of soaring living costs, the price of key ingredients like flour, butter, and sugar increases substantially. However, since the bakery follows a fixed markup percentage, it struggles to quickly adjust its prices to reflect these cost hikes.


As a result, customers notice that the bakery’s prices are notably higher than those of competitors offering similar products. Frustrated by the lack of price adjustments, some loyal customers may switch to other bakeries that have more responsive pricing strategies, leading to a decline in sales.


Disadvantages Of Cost Plus Pricing #2: Profit Margin Compression


Elevated living costs often result in higher input expenses for goods and services. Employing cost-plus pricing without considering these fluctuations can lead to squeezed profit margins. As the cost base rises, the fixed markup percentage might not adequately cover the increased expenses, eroding profitability and potentially causing financial strain.


Consider a small electronics repair shop that relies on cost-plus pricing for its services. As living costs rise, the cost of specialised tools and components required for repairs also escalates. Despite the price increase in these inputs, the repair shop maintains the same markup percentage as before.


Consequently, the shop’s profit margins shrink, and it struggles to cover operating expenses such as rent and employee wages. Over time, this margin compression could jeopardise the business’s financial stability, making it difficult to invest in necessary equipment upgrades or employee training.


Disadvantages Of Cost Plus Pricing #3: Customer Perceptions


As costs of living continue to rise, consumers become unwilling to pay high prices and increasingly become price-sensitive and value-conscious. Implementing cost-plus pricing without considering these shifting customer preferences could lead to perceptions of insensitivity or unresponsiveness. Small businesses may struggle to retain customers or attract new ones if their pricing strategy does not align with the value proposition customers seek in such challenging economic environments.


Take the example of a small graphic design agency that employs cost-plus pricing for its creative projects. During a period of increased living costs, many businesses are seeking cost-effective solutions to maintain their marketing efforts. However, the design agency continues to price its services solely based on its traditional cost-plus approach.


disadvantages of cost plus pricing


Prospective clients, perceiving the agency’s prices as out of touch with the current economic climate, might turn to freelancers or alternative agencies that offer more competitive rates. This shift in customer perceptions can significantly impact the agency’s ability to attract and retain clients, hindering its growth prospects.


Value-based pricing offers a mutually advantageous framework for both small businesses and their customers.


By aligning prices with the perceived worth and emotional benefits customers derive from products or services, businesses can establish a more compelling value proposition, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. This strategic approach fosters transparent communication, as prices reflect the real value delivered, building trust and strengthening customer relationships. Moreover, businesses can better capture their fair share of the market’s willingness to pay, leading to increased revenue potential.


For customers, value-based pricing ensures a personalised and tailored experience, where they pay for precisely what they value most, thus enhancing their overall satisfaction and perceived value of the purchase. This symbiotic approach results in a win-win scenario, where businesses thrive by delivering tailored value, and customers reap the benefits of products or services that align precisely with their preferences and emotional needs.


It’s clear that small businesses relying on cost-plus pricing must reassess their strategies and transition toward value-based pricing. However, this shift isn’t a straightforward process, demanding careful strategic planning.


How can small businesses shift to value-based pricing to circumvent the disadvantages of cost plus pricing?


Adopting a holistic approach that integrates supply and demand with consumer perceptions is paramount for effective pricing strategies. Here are 5 steps small businesses can take to shift from cost-plus to value-based pricing:


1. In-Depth Value Analysis


Initiate the process by conducting a thorough evaluation of your products or services to identify their distinct value propositions. Dive into consumer psychology, dissecting emotions, desires, and the decision-making factors that influence purchasing choices. Gather direct customer feedback through surveys or focus groups to gain deeper insights into how customers perceive the emotional benefits and psychological value derived from your offerings.


2. Segmentation and Personalisation


Apply consumer psychology insights to segment your customer base according to their preferences, behaviours, and willingness to invest. Create tailored value-based pricing strategies for each segment, accentuating the specific aspects of your offerings that resonate with their psychological triggers. In addition, design customised pricing packages that underscore the particular value drivers most relevant to each customer segment, fortifying their emotional attachment to your brand.


3. Strategic Pricing Communication


Implement consumer psychology principles into your pricing communication. Craft pricing messages that evoke positive emotions and spotlight the psychological benefits customers stand to gain. Utilise tactics like anchoring, scarcity, and social proof to shape perceptions of value. Consider the implementation of tiered pricing models that correspond to varying levels of perceived value, leveraging cognitive biases to guide customers toward options that resonate with their psychological predispositions.


4. Feedback-Driven Refinement


Continuously gather feedback and data on how customers respond to the new value-based pricing approach. Analyse the emotional and psychological impact on purchasing behaviour. This iterative process allows you to refine and optimise your pricing strategy based on real-world insights. Additionally, use ongoing customer feedback to fine-tune your value-based pricing strategy, ensuring it remains aligned with shifting consumer psychology and evolving market dynamics.


5. Continuous Adaptation and Growth


Embrace an adaptive mindset that integrates consumer psychology into your pricing strategy on an ongoing basis. Stay attuned to changes in customer preferences and market trends, adjusting your value-based pricing approach accordingly. Lastly, cultivate a culture of continuous improvement, where consumer psychology is integrated into your business’s DNA, enabling you to consistently deliver exceptional value and maintain a strong competitive edge.


Implications Of Value-Based Price Decision-Making To Small Business Consumer Psychology


Transitioning from cost-plus to value-based pricing necessitates strategic internal changes for small businesses, particularly in the face of a high cost of living. Firstly, businesses need to reevaluate their pricing philosophy by focusing on the unique value they deliver to customers. For instance, instead of solely considering production costs, they should emphasise the benefits and solutions their products or services provide to address customer pain points or aspirations.


Secondly, small businesses must invest in understanding their target audience deeply. By conducting thorough market research, they can identify what aspects of their offerings resonate most with customers. For example, pinpointing how their products enhance convenience, save time, or offer exceptional quality can empower businesses to attach appropriate value to their pricing.


Effective communication is vital in ensuring customer acceptance of value-based pricing amid a high cost of living. Businesses should transparently articulate how their pricing aligns with the enhanced value they offer. By showcasing the tangible benefits customers gain and providing clear justifications for price adjustments, businesses can foster a deeper appreciation among customers, encouraging acceptance of the new pricing paradigm.


Small- and medium-sized firm employees frequently have their hands full of workloads. But, our findings show that with the right set-up and pricing plans in place, incremental earnings gains can begin to occur in less than 12 weeks. After 6 months, your teams can capture at least 1.0-3.25% more margin using better price management processes. After 9-12 months, businesses often generate between 7-11% additional margin each year as they identify more complex and previously unrealised opportunities, efficiencies, and risks.


>>> Setup A Meeting With An Expert <<<


Bottom Line


Pricing intricacies extend beyond supply and demand, encompassing consumer perceptions, competition, and external factors. This broader perspective equips businesses to set prices strategically, leverage differentiation, and adapt swiftly to changing market dynamics.


Moreover, in the context of economic shifts and media influence, understanding consumer sentiment becomes paramount. By navigating these forces strategically, businesses can foster customer acceptance even when faced with higher prices. Additionally, transitioning to value-based pricing necessitates internal shifts and adept communication. Through a customer-centric lens, businesses can avoid the disadvantages of cost plus pricing, secure customer loyalty, and effectively navigate the challenges posed by a high cost of living.


For a comprehensive view of ensuring the continuous growth of your business, Download a complimentary brochure on How To Drive Pricing Strategy To Accelerate Sales & EBIT Growth.


Are you a small or medium-sized business in need of help aligning your pricing strategy, people and operations to deliver an immediate impact on profit?

If so, please call (+61) 2 8607 7001.

You can also email us at if you have any further questions.


Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked