You are already familiar with price lines. Ties may be priced at USD 15, USD 17, USD 20, and USD 22.50; blue jeans may be priced at USD 30, USD 32.95, USD 37.95, and USD 45. Each price must be far apart enough so that buyers can see definite quality differences among products. Price lines tend to be associated with consumer shopping goods such as apparel, appliances, and carpeting rather than product lines such as groceries. Customers do very little comparison-shopping on the latter.
Price lining serves several purposes that benefit both buyers and sellers. Customers want and expect a wide assortment of goods, particularly shopping goods. Many small price differences for a given item can be confusing. If ties were priced at USD 15, USD 15.35, USD 15.75, and so on, selection would be more difficult; the customer could not judge quality differences as reflected by such small increments in price. So, having relatively few prices reduces the confusion.
From the seller's point of view, price lining holds several benefits. First, it is simpler and more efficient to use relatively fewer prices. The product/service mix can then be tailored to selected price points. Price points are simply the different prices that make up the line. Second, it can result in a smaller inventory than would otherwise be the case. It might increase stock turnover and make inventory control simpler. Third, as costs change, either increasing or decreasing the prices can remain the same, but the quality in the line can be changed. For example, you may have bought a USD 20 tie 15 years ago. You can buy a USD 20 tie today, but it is unlikely that today's USD 20 tie is of the same fine quality as it was in the past. While customers are likely to be aware of the differences, they are nevertheless still able to purchase a USD 20 tie. During inflationary periods the quality/price point relationship changes. From the point of view of salespeople, offering price lines will make selling easier. Salespeople can easily learn a small number of prices. This reduces the likelihood that they will misquote prices or make other pricing errors. Their selling effort is therefore more relaxed, and this atmosphere will influence customers positively. It also gives the salesperson flexibility. If a customer cannot afford a USD 2,800 Gateway system, the USD 2,200 system is suggested.