Break-even pricing is a reasonable approach when there is a limit on the quantity which a firm can provide and particularly when a target return objective is sought. Assume, for example, that the firm with the costs illustrated in the previous example determines that it can provide no more than 10,000 units of the product in the next period of operation. Furthermore, the firm has set a target for profit of 20 per cent above total costs. Referring again to internal accounting records and the changing cost of production at near capacity levels, a new total cost curve is calculated. From the cost curve profile, management sets the desirable level of production at 80 per cent of capacity or 8,000 units. From the total cost curve, it is determined that the cost for producing 8,000 units is USD 18,000. 20 per cent of USD 18,000 is USD 3,600. Adding this to the total cost at 8,000 units yields the point at that quantity through which the total revenue curve must pass. Finally, USD 21,600 divided by 8,000 units yields the price of USD 2.70 per unit; here the USD 3,600 in profit would be realized. The obvious shortcoming of the target return approach to pricing is the absence of any information concerning the demand for the product at the desired price. It is assumed that all of the units will be sold at the price which provides the desired return.
It would be necessary, therefore, to determine whether the desired price is in fact attractive to potential customers in the marketplace. If break-even pricing is to be used, it should be supplemented by additional information concerning customer perceptions of the relevant range of prices for the product. The source of this information would most commonly be survey research, as well as a thorough review of pricing practices by competitors in the industry. In spite of their shortcomings, break-even pricing and target return pricing are very common business practices.