It can happen in any industry. One company decides to lower their prices. Then another decides to match or beat them. Then a third. Before you know it, the companies are locked in a race to the bottom to see who can offer the lowest price. By lowering the price, the company hopes to bring in new customers. There are several problems with this theory though.
- Customer loyalty: Customers that jump on to the lowest are not loyal customers. Studies with coupons have shown that customers whose main focus is price will jump to another product if that price is lower. Customers that are drawn in by low prices are difficult and expensive to keep.
- Quality: There is only so much you can cut prices before it affects the quality of your product or service. That loss in quality will chase away your existing customers, even as the price brings in new ones.
- It’s tough to climb back up: Once customers get used to paying a lower or discounted price it becomes difficult to get them to pay higher prices for the same product or service. Walmart found this out when they tried to raise prices. They faced an exodus of customers who went elsewhere in search of lower prices.
Stay out of the race to the bottom. Compete on quality or compete on results. Competing on price is a minefield.