Tag Archives: retail

Costco and Chicken

Pricing can be a confusing topic – and not just for marketers. Consumers can also be confused, but one thing they always recognize is when they get a good deal on a product. Such is the case for Costco’s $4.99 rotisserie chickens. At that price the product is less than poultry from competing grocers. So, how does Costco make a profit on the chickens? Well, the short answer is that the company does not make a profit on this item – in fact, it loses money every time one is sold.

The Kirkland Signature rotisserie chicken is probably one of the most popular items the company sells; last year Costco sold more than 90 million of the item. And, yes, it lost money on each and every bird. Estimates are that the loss amounts to between $30 million and $40 million each year. This is known in the industry as a “loss leader.” The reason for a loss leader product is to get consumers in the store in order to sell additional products at which the retailer does make a profit. The chickens are at the very back of the warehouses, meaning if consumers want the bird they have to navigate a tempting array of other low-cost foods and products. It’s tough to leave Costco with only a single item!

Costco is trying to get its costs lower by opening a $450 million poultry complex in Nebraska. In this case, the company will control the supply chain, starting from the grain the chickens eat to grow out and slaughter, eventually to the Costco’s kitchen, and finally to consumers’ homes. The new poultry complex will provide Costco with roughly 40% of the chickens it needs and reduce its purchasing costs. It will also provide a more standard-sized chicken of around six pounds to fit on its rotisserie line.

How much will Costco save with the new complex? Estimates are that savings will be around 35 cents per chicken. Not a lot in a single bird, but multiple it by 90 million and the savings will add up.

What’s for dinner?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. 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. Discuss when companies should use loss-leader pricing.
  4. Show a video about Costco chicken: https://youtu.be/MSvCK_xH84s
  5. What strategy is Costco using to price its rotisserie chickens?
  6. For Costco chicken, divide students into groups and have each group work on any/all of the six steps.
  7. When setting the price level, assign each team a different model to use (demand-oriented, cost- oriented, etc.).
  8. Debrief the exercise. Compare the various pricing models and discuss advantages/disadvantages of each.

Source: Meyersohn, N. (11 October 2019). It’s only $4.99. but Costco’s rotisserie chicken comes at a huge price. CNN Business.

 

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Schick Buys Harry’s for $1.37 Billion

The shaving industry is cut-throat (no pun intended) with fierce rivalries between Schick, Gillette, Unilever, and P&G. A few years ago, Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club for more than $1 billion. The deal gave Unilever access to a new market of online consumers for men’s grooming products. Last year, Procter & Gamble bought Walker & Co. which markets Bevel, a shaving brand focused on black consumers.

Not to be left behind, Schick has now announced a similar type of deal, buying shaving company Harry’s for $1.37 billion. Harry’s has roughly 2.6% of the men’s shaving industry, with Schick at 10% and Dollar Shave Club at 8.5%.

Harry’s differs from Dollar Shave Club as it has retailers such as Target and Walmart stocking its products on their shelves in addition to online sales. Harry’s also launched Flamingo as a new women’s grooming brand.

Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s built a direct-to-consumer business model which has been enthusiastically embraced by shoppers. Prices are lower, and connections are more easily built between the brands and the shoppers.

Where do you buy shaving products?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Where do they buy razors and grooming products? Approximately how much do they spend each month on these?
  2. Discuss competition: what are the direct competitors for this product? Indirect competitors?
  3. View Schick’s Web site: https://www.schick.com/
  4. View Harry’s Web site: https://www.harrys.com/en/us
  5. View Flamingo’s Web site: https://www.shopflamingo.com
  6. View Bevel’s Web site: https://getbevel.com/
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team analyze the one of the shaving Web sites.
  8. What are the points of difference? Key messages? Target market?

Source: Associated Press. Schick owner buys Harry’s in new shaving war alliance. (9 May 2019).

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Tesla Keeps Shifting Tactics

Once again we examine Tesla. Ok, ok, we know we covered it last month when the company announced it would be closing stores, and then reversed the stores closing. Also last month, the company announced price increases for all models except for the Model 3. And that seemed like a lot for a relatively short period of time. But, Tesla still wasn’t quite done.

Later in March, Tesla announced a new vehicle named the Model Y, a compact sport-utility vehicle with an expected price of $39,000. Model Y will begin production in 2020, have a range of 300 miles/charge, and go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Larger than the Model 3, Model Y will sell for $47,000 in fall 2020 with a $39,000 version expected in spring 2021. Tesla is now taking orders for Model Y with a $2,500 refundable deposit.

Next, in mid-April, Tesla announced that it is halting online sales of the Model 3 at the $35,000 base version. (Wait – wasn’t last month’s tactic shift about moving buyers to use online shopping? What’s happening?) Buyers can order the $35,000 priced version only by telephone or at Tesla’s retail stores. If buying online on Tesla’s website, the minimum price for the Model 3 starts at $39,500, 13% higher than in stores. This is the fourth price change already this year for Tesla.

Another point of confusion concerns test drives. On Tesla’s website it states that customers can drive a car for a week, or less than 1,000 miles, and still return it. Some stores have told buyers that is they test drive before buying, they only have a single day to return the car.  Also according to the website, car delivery should happen within two weeks, but stores have stated that it can take much longer in some areas, particularly if customers want the $35,000 base model.

It’s not good to confuse consumers.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss Tesla’s distribution model and compare it to other automobile manufacturers’ models. What are advantages? Disadvantages?
  2. Show the Model Y in class: https://www.tesla.com/modely
  3. What are the key differentiators for this model versus competition?
  4. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  5. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a positioning map for Tesla.
  6. Have each team draw their map on the board.
  7. Debrief exercise.

Source: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Assoc. Press, other news sources

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