Every business owner has struggled with setting product prices at some point. It can seem impossible to figure out how much a consumer would be willing to pay for a product or service. This information is crucial to have on hand, though. Setting an ideal price allows brands to rope in tons of new customers, create loyalists, generate maximum profits, and absorb overall costs.
Willingness to Pay (WTP) is a vital metric that shows business owners the highest amount of money their consumers are willing to part with in exchange for goods or services. Calculating consumers’ WTP is how a brand can determine its price point. It might even decide on a multi-tiered pricing strategy, depending on how high or low the target market’s WTP is.
- Why is Willingness to Pay Important?
- How to Calculate Willingness to Pay
- 5 Factors that Influence a Customer’s Willingness to Pay
- How To Positively Influence Customers’ Willingness to Pay
Why is Willingness to Pay Important?
Consumers’ WTP may have a direct and hard-hitting impact on a business’ proverbial (and real) wallet, as the more they’re willing to part with, the higher profit margin the business will enjoy. According to Forbes, 58% of buyers are happy to pay more if they’re getting great customer service. This is statistically significant and shows that if brands improve the factors that influence customers’ WTP, they will enjoy more revenue and increased profits.
How to Calculate Willingness to Pay
WTP sounds like a challenging metric to measure, primarily because it’s influenced by both data and instinct. Think of how a customer feels when they shop for an everyday item like clothes: if they’re priced too high, they likely won’t want to buy them. if they’re priced too low, they’ll question their quality, make, and popularity.
While this is a quantifiable example, there are a lot of other, more obscure, factors that can impact a customer’s WTP. For example, some people feel extra assured when a product comes with a money-back guarantee policy and are willing to pay top dollar for it. Other customers might be wary of anything that needs to be sold with a guarantee and might not want to buy it at all, thinking it’ll break or be disappointing. There’s not an exact science to calculating WTP, but there are a few methods that produce results.
Here is how you can calculate WTP:
Observe the Competition
Market research is the best place to start the pricing journey. This will be easier for businesses that offer a niche product/service because they won’t have much competition. If a brand has a product that’s fairly common, though, it’ll need to figure out how much competing brands are charging for it. Businesses should conduct research about competitors no matter what they sell, whether it’s a physical product, a service, or a piece of software.
Research your Consumers
This is easily done through data gathering, whether with surveys or field tests. It’s a great idea to gather a sample pool of potential customers and ask them how much they’d be willing to pay for the product or service. This will create a possible range for the brand to play in. These customers can also test the product and then decide their price. They should be made to sign a release of liability form if there’s any chance of injury or loss, depending on the nature of the product/service.
Business owners will have looked through endless demographics and psychographics when creating their target market. They should go back to the books and take a good look at their customers’ preferences, lifestyles, monetary value, habits, and more. This data will give them a fair idea of how much their target audience is able and willing to pay for the product/service they’re offering.
5 Factors that Influence a Customer’s Willingness to Pay
WTP can’t be calculated on factors as basic as quality versus cost. There are lots of intricate elements that influence any consumer’s WTP and these fluctuate with time. Both macro and micro factors have parts to play. Let’s take a look at some of these factors:
1. Brand Credibility
Customers mostly prefer to do business with brands that they trust. The world has seen a recent shift towards fast moving trends, new tech, and a sharing economy. There are multiple companies that promise similar products/services, especially if they play in a mass category. It can be overwhelming to pick and choose between these brands, and customers will be willing to spend more money on a brand they trust.
Customer experience plays an important role in WTP too. A brand that treats its consumers like a community instead of strangers will be able to charge more for products. Building credibility is also crucial because of the rise of e-commerce. Without the try-before-you-buy option, customers will rely on the brand to deliver products that match the ones on its website. Brands should deliver transparency and quality to earn positive reviews and earn higher WTP.
2. An Omnichannel Experience
Consistency follows credibility in that customers want the consumer funnel to run smoothly. A brand that stays consistent in its messaging across all channels, whether digital or not, will attract customers that are willing to pay more. This means that the various departments responsible for the brand, i.e., sales, marketing, shipping etc., must be in sync. A smooth consumer funnel will positively influence customers’ decisions to pay higher prices.
Customers should be able to reach out to brands across channels instead of being restricted to a couple. For example, someone wishing to set appointments with a brand must be able to get through to customer service through social media, email, and phone call, among other channels. If consumers can easily access a brand, they will feel secure, leading to a higher WTP for products/services. Providing multiple payment method options can also help.
3. The Personal Touch
Imagine a customer’s favorite brand reaches out to them with a discount or offer that’s tailor-made according to their shopping habits. The customer would probably feel seen and become a loyalist. Consumers enjoy when brands take the time to research their wants, needs and preferences. A personalized experience means better customer service can influence consumers to pay top prices for products/services.
Small businesses can work miracles here as they provide personalized experiences from products to packaging. It’s really all in the details. Handwritten notes, well-wrapped products, and personalized sign-offs using the best e-signature software for small business are what convince consumers to pay more.
Consumers also appreciate it when brands stay in touch. No one like spam, of course, but the occasional personalized email blast is usually received well. Customers get to find out what’s new with the brand and are more willing to spend on a business that appears to care about keeping them up to date. Staying in touch in a personalized way makes consumers feel like they’re part of the brand community and this experience can influence their WTP in a positive way.
4. Quality Assurance
With a ton of competition in the market, a brand that wants to charge top prices must be willing to put in top-quality materials. Businesses should ensure that they’re delivering the best and setting a standard. A customer who has a bad experience with a coffee shop won’t think twice about changing to another café. On the other hand, a coffee shop that consistently delivers great quality coffee can charge higher prices than competitors because it will have created more loyalists.
For digital payments, make sure that your clients are aware that payments are authenticated and secure. Their credit card information should be safe with you and on your online portals.
5. A Sustainable Experience
The world is moving to climate consciousness, with more people opting for brands that promise sustainable and environmentally friendly products. A customer will likely not mind paying a higher price for products or services that they know are helping the environment. Think of metal straws or plastic-free packaging. These cost more to make and sell, but modern consumers are willing to pay the price to save the environment.
How To Positively Influence Customers’ Willingness to Pay
A consumer’s WTP can be influenced by numerous factors that may change with time and new trends. Certain consumers may not want to pay a lot for something they think of as a passing fad, while others might be excited to invest highly in an innovative product/service. Demographics and psychographics can be an excellent source to determine the specific factors that influence your consumers.
Brands should look into personalizing the customer experience funnel as much as possible, through custom offers, multiple touchpoints, exploring new payment options and stellar customer service.
Consumers who feel heard will be willing to spend more money buying products versus those who find their experience to be impersonal. Brands that operate in a niche market may have it better than larger corporations because the former can offer tailor-made, friendly and personal experiences.
Customers are mindful of credibility, quality, customer service, personalization and sustainability. Consequently, these are the top factors that will continue to influence their WTP in 2023 and beyond.
About the Author
Yauhen Zaremba is the Director of Demand Generation at PandaDoc. He’s been a marketer for 10+ years, and for the last five years, he’s been entirely focused on the electronic signature, proposal, HEIC to PDF converter, and document management markets. Yauhen has experience speaking at niche conferences where he enjoys sharing his expertise with other curious marketers. And in his spare time, he is an avid fisherman and takes nearly 20 fishing trips every year.
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