Benefits of Intense Competition: Lower Prices and Better Products

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No segment of our economy has been under more intense pressure than the manufacturing sector. Lower labor costs in many parts of the international economy have forced manufactured product prices down and shifted manufacturing jobs out of the United States. Competition has indeed been intense.

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A Likely End Game to Hostility

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The hard disk drive business has been a lousy place to compete for nearly twenty-five years. It has been the graveyard of many competitors. Twenty years ago, there were eighty disk drive manufacturers. By the mid-90s, there were only fifteen. By 2001, there were eight, and today it appears there are only four. But the fact that we are at four competitors, especially the size of the leading competitors, means that the industry is likely to come out of its recurring bouts of overcapacity and hostility. As 2011 began, there were five hard disk drive…

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Cable T.V. and Customer Retention

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Recently, I decided to test the waters for a less expensive television experience. I have been a loyal cable subscriber for thirty-five years, but friends have told me that other systems, especially satellite, are cheaper. I went online to DirectTV.com to check their packages. We have been spending about $112 a month. The equivalent package from DirectTV appeared to be about $81 a month. I was shocked at the size of the price difference. DirectTV was more than 25% less expensive than Comcast, my cable supplier. Given the size of these price differences, I did…

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Cable T.V. and Customer Retention

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Recently, I decided to test the waters for a less expensive television experience. I have been a loyal cable subscriber for thirty-five years, but friends have told me that other systems, especially satellite, are cheaper. I went online to DirectTV.com to check their packages. We have been spending about $112 a month. The equivalent package from DirectTV appeared to be about $81 a month. I was shocked at the size of the price difference. DirectTV was more than 25% less expensive than Comcast, my cable supplier. Given the size of these price differences, I did…

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A Squeeze at the Top

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The very highest end of Parisian hotels includes such names as the Crillon, the Plaza Athenee and Le Bristol. There are four of these highest prestige hotels in Paris. Their prices start at Euro 750 a night. Average room prices run around Euro 1000 a night. These are among the highest prices for hotel rooms in the world. Still, occupancy rates run around 80%. Even in the doldrums of 2008 and 2009, they fell only to 70%. Something new is happening, though. The high end of the market is about to see a doubling in…

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Another Creative Pricing Scheme

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It is not often that you see companies using really unusual pricing to build future business. Here is one that I like. Every price has three and, usually four, components: the Benefit Package, the Basis of Charge, the List price and usually some Optional Components of price. The Benefit Package includes all of the Function, Reliability and Convenience benefits associated with the main product. The Basis of Charge is the way the company quantifies the unit of sale that it prices with the List Price, which is the stated price per unit of product sold.…

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The NYSE Stumble Offers a Lesson for All Leaders

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Recently, the New York Stock Exchange agreed to sell itself to the German exchange, Deutsche Boerse. For generations, the NYSE was the place to trade equities of the finest companies in the U.S. Its sale to a German exchange is a sign of how desperate its market situation has become. The NYSE’s fall offers some important lessons for a market leader in any industry. The NYSE’s market share has fallen out of bed. Six years ago, 75% of the traded shares of companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange traded on that exchange. Today,…

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Amazon’s Blockbuster Innovation

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In 2005, Amazon introduced its Prime Free Shipping program. This yearly subscription program promised free two-day shipping on any purchase the subscriber made from Amazon. Five years later, 13% of Amazon’s 130 million active users are Prime members. More significantly, 20% of the subscribers who purchased products from Amazon in the last twelve months are Prime subscribers. These Prime subscribers purchase two to three times as much as non-Prime subscribers over the course of a year. This Performance innovation removes an impediment to purchasing on Amazon. In fact, it increases the odds greatly that online…

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Whirlpool and Electrolux Blink

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The home appliance market has been a difficult place to compete during several periods over the last thirty years. It is tough again today. Sales of large appliances have fallen steadily since 2007. Competition is intensifying with the pressure of the South Korean competitors, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics, on Whirlpool Corp and Electrolux AB. Whirlpool and Electrolux are suffering from rising costs for steel, copper, plastics and other raw materials. To offset these cost increases, the two companies plan price increases of 8% to 10% in the spring. The problem: the Koreans aren’t playing…

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The Long and Arduous Journey of the Airline Industry May be Reaching an End

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The government deregulated the airline industry in 1978. Since that time, the basic pricing in the industry, as well as airline fortunes, have been more or less continuously on the downward slope. It has been a very long trip down. The industry may be heading up again, though. In the third quarter of 2010, the average domestic airfare was 11% higher than a year earlier. Profits returned to the industry in 2010 behind higher prices. In some part, these higher prices were the result of the additional fees that most of the domestic carriers charged…

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