Amazon Raises Price for Prime Membership

Pricing is a very strategic part of marketing. And, yes, we know that price is one of the four P’s and is usually referred to as a tactic. However, when an organization is setting strategic objectives, price is a critical factor to meeting the objectives. However, it is relatively rare for companies to increase prices. Consumers tend to balk at paying more for a product or service that they have had for years. Except it appears, when the company is Amazon, then customers go along with the increase.

Beginning in May, new subscribers to Amazon Prime will pay $119 per year for shipping and entertainment membership programs; existing subscribers will pay the new fee when renewing after mid-June. This is an increase of $20 per year (20%), but it is only the second time that the company has raised the price for Prime. In 2014, Prime cost subscribers $99 per year, and in 2005 when it launched, the price was $79 per year. (What may be more surprising about the move though is that the company announced that is has more than 100 million Prime members worldwide. Amazon had never previously reported the level of members.)

Why the price increase? Prime is expensive for Amazon to fund. Since 2014, the number of products available for free two-day shipping has increased from 20 million to more than 100 million. The company has a significant investment in its logistics network and costs of shipping continue to rise. In addition, Amazon has spent lavishly to acquire, and create, an extensive library of movies and TV shows that are included in the benefits of Prime memberships. Prime delivers value to subscribers beyond the two-day free shipping option.

Is Prime still worth the price?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Pricing is a complex topic. Discuss the six steps for pricing (determining objectives, estimating demand, determining cost/profit relationships, select price level, set list price, and make adjustments).
  2. Discuss the various pricing models in class: demand-oriented, cost-oriented, profit-oriented, and competition-oriented.
  3. For Amazon Prime, divide students into groups and have each group work on any/all of the six steps.
  4. When setting the price level, assign each team a different model to use (demand-oriented, cost- oriented, etc.).
  5. Debrief the exercise. Compare the various pricing models and discuss advantages/disadvantages of each.

Source: CNN Money, Recode, Washington Post, other news sources

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