Smart Pricing: How Google, Priceline, and Leading Businesses Use Pricing Innovation for Profitabilit

Financial Times
Jagmohan Raju / Z. Zhang  
Total pages
March 2010
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Smart Pricing: How Google, Priceline, and Leading Businesses Use Pricing Innovation for Profitabilit


In Smart Pricing, Wharton professors and renowned pricing experts Jagmohan Raju and John Zhang offer a powerful alternative to traditional pricing models. The authors focusing on a new set of influencers in pricing strategy: consumer psychology, economics, and marketing. To do so, they draw on their own breakthrough pricing research, as well as their most recent work helping enterprises rethink their approaches to pricing. Raju and Zhang make pricing more tangible and concrete by revealing innovative strategies that are helping companies create and capture more value and more new customers. Readers will discover restaurants where customers set the price… how Google and other high-tech companies have used pricing to remake whole industries… how executives in China have made an art of initiating and fighting price wars, in spite of the conventional Western wisdom that price wars are risky. Replete with examples from contemporary business, this book heralds a revolution in how companies establish pricing and measure its effectiveness.


Use the latest knowledge in consumer psychology and economics to establish pricing that consistently maximizes value.


  • Revolutionary pricing techniques that go beyond the simplistic models that leave both money and opportunity on the table
  • Powerful insights into everything from subscription-based pricing to “snob premiums” and the true value of “free Revolutionary pricing techniques that go beyond the simplistic models that leave both money and opportunity on the table.
  • Draws on state-of-the-art research and consulting by two of the world’s leading pricing experts, The Wharton School’s Jagmohan Raju and John Zhang.



Table of Contents

About the Authors   xi


Introduction  Fingerprints of the Invisible Hand   1

Chapter 1 "Pay As You Wish” Pricing  19

Chapter 2   Why the Best Things in Life Are Free   41

Chapter 3 The Art of Price Wars  59

Chapter 4 Thinking Small  79

Chapter 5 The Automatic Markdown   101

Chapter 6 Name Your Own Price   119

Chapter 7 Subscribe and Save: Pricing for Marketing Profitability   139

Chapter 8 The Snob Premium   161

Chapter 9 Pay if it Works   181

Chapter 10  Conclusion   201


Index   207


Professor Jagmohan S. Raju is the Joseph J. Aresty Professor at the Wharton School and the Chair of the Marketing Department. He is also the Executive Director of the Wharton-Indian School of Business partnership. Before becoming an academic, Professor Raju worked with the Tata Administrative Service and Philips India Ltd.


He has a Ph.D., M.S., M.A. Stanford University; an MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad; and a BTech from IIT Delhi. He was recognized for the best academic performance in his class for each of the two years he studied at IIM Ahmedabad, a merit scholarship at IIT Delhi, and the President’s Gold Medal at Punjab Public School, Nabha.


Professor Raju is the past Marketing Editor of Management Science and the Past President of the INFORMS Society for Marketing Science. His main areas of research include competitive marketing strategy, pricing, retailing, sales promotions, sales force compensation, corporate image advertising, and strategic alliances. He has supervised 12 doctoral dissertations to date. He coordinated the Wharton Marketing Department’s PhD Program. He serves on Wharton’s Academic Personnel Committee, and Globalization Committee.


His research papers have won the John DC Little best paper award (twice), the Frank Bass dissertation paper award (twice) and several other recognitions. He has received several teaching awards, some of which include the George Robbins Teaching Award and Marketing Teacher of the Year while he was at UCLA; Wharton Executive MBA Teaching Awards; Wharton Miller-Sherrerd Core Teaching Award, and the Indian School of Business Teaching Award. Professor Raju teaches the core marketing class and the pricing elective at Wharton.


Professor Z. John Zhang is a Professor of Marketing and Murrel J. Ades Professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Automation and Philosophy of Science from Huazhong University of Science and Technology (China), a Ph.D. in History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania, and also a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan.


Prior to joining Wharton in 2002, John taught pricing and marketing management at the Olin School of Business of Washington University in St. Louis for three years and at Columbia Business School for five years. In the past eight years, John has also taught pricing to over two thousand Chinese executives in Mandarin as part of Wharton’s executive education and other outreach and collaborative programs. He also won the 2003 EMBA Electives Teaching Award for teaching pricing to Wharton EMBAs.


John’s research focuses primarily on competitive pricing strategies, the design of pricing structures, and channel management. He has published many articles in top marketing and management journals on various pricing issues such as measuring consumer reservation prices, price-matching guarantees, couponing, rebates, targeted pricing, access service pricing, choice of price promotion vehicles, channel pricing, price wars, and the pricing implications of combative advertising. In recent years, he has also developed a keen interest in the movie and telecom industries. He has also published a number of articles in Chinese on pricing and retailing issues in China. He currently is collaborating with scholars in many countries to explore various pricing and channel issues in emerging markets and beyond. He won the 2001 John D.C. Little Best Paper Award and the 2001 Frank Bass Best Dissertation Award, along with his co-authors, for his contribution to the understanding of targeted pricing with imperfect targetability.


As part of his service to the marketing community, John serves as Associate Editor for Quantitative Economics and Marketing. He is also an area editor for Marketing Science and Management Science.


Reader Review(s)

"Pricing innovation is not for the timid," conclude Jagmohan and Zhang (both, Wharton School, Univ. of Pennsylvania), "getting the pricing right is, in the end, both art and science." Nonetheless, they endeavor to broach the subject with an accessible range of modern price-setting techniques. Smart Pricing is at its best in consolidating "the art" of inventive price discrimination, assembling best practices from different companies across industries. Smart Pricing does provide an adequate, instructive primer on less conventional approaches to price decision making. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; undergraduate students at all levels; professionals. -- S. M. Mohammed, SUNY Fredonia. Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.