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What’s a loss chief and may your small business use one?

A loss leader is a pricing strategy in which a product is sold at a price below market costs to encourage other sales of more profitable goods or services. Especially in retail stores such as grocery stores, the price of a loss guide is lower than the actual cost that the retailer paid for the item.

Loss Leader Pricing

Toilet paper, milk and eggs are typical examples of loss-makers in supermarkets. They are sold at discounted prices to attract customers to the store, where they also buy many items at regular prices. Because of this, you will find that milk and eggs are at the very back of the shops. This is because customers who want to buy these items will have to search other items and may need to purchase items that would make the business more profitable.

Examples of loss-makers could range from important items such as food to tools and electronics. Grocery stores are most likely to employ price guessers when they routinely advertise low prices on selected items. Other industries are also using this strategy to launch a brand, win new customers and liquidate old stocks.

Companies often cost a few items so low that there is no profit margin. The goal is for buyers to continue to buy other products and become loyal customers after buying the item at a low price.

The loss leader's strategy assumes that a small loss can ultimately lead to profits.

In addition, these discounts could be applied to urgently needed important items to make them your loss leaders. However, for a loss leader strategy to really work, you should break down profits from other goods to cover the losses from the discounted item. From a business perspective, a small loss is often required to make bigger profits.

The key, however, lies in the generation of a higher customer volume and a higher purchasing volume.

When should loss conductors be used?

In addition, there are other advantages of winning customers for your chain stores. By simply doing good business for consumers, you can bring additional revenue to your business. Black Friday deals and vacation discounts set a leading loss price.

Loss leaders are also used in e-commerce. The cheaper the products appear on the landing pages, the more likely customers are to buy other free items. It's all about merchandising, especially visual merchandising. You need to let customers know that there is a special incentive / offer for them to respond.

Eliminate excess stocks

This pricing strategy can be implemented during a season change. For example, retailers can offer discounts on summer clothing or barbecues to make room for fall and winter vacation goods. The attractive offers entice customers to reduce their inventory of items that are on the way to be out of season. When a new mobile phone model comes on the market, you can grant discounts on the older versions to make room for the new model.

Retailers can quickly clear up their inventory on certain days / events and sell new inventory quickly with price reductions.

Sale of perishable goods

Perishable goods such as food and beverages can be discarded before they become bad for damage reduction. Very often, these loss makers are offered for sale for a short period of time in order to create a sense of urgency among customers.

Opening new stores

This pricing strategy can be an excellent way to attract buyers to a new location. Customers who may not enter your store may want to take advantage of a certain price advantage. This way you can build a customer base in the early stages of your business.

For this reason, loss leader pricing is also referred to as penetrating pricing. Some retailers even offer free gifts to the first hundred customers to increase demand and push more people into their stores.


Loss-leading pricing can be an alternative form of marketing. Here, the seller essentially pays the customer the amount of losses incurred when entering the company store. It could be introductory prices.

For example, a service provider such as a telecommunications company may offer a low introductory rate to entice customers to use its services. After the customer base is won, the company increases prices. Interest rates can sometimes be very low in the beginning. This attracts new customers or attracts customers from the competition.
Another example is when shops offer customers free food samples.

Increase sales

If customers buy more items in addition to the loss leader, you will make a bigger profit based on the customer’s purchasing volume. By choosing your loss ladder and complementary products, you can actually use loss ladder to encourage the purchase of other items in your store.

A discount on ties or scarves can tempt customers to buy a shirt. Another example of a loss leader is the case of free copies that give magazines when buying a subscription.

Challenges for loss leaders

As much as this price strategy contributes to increasing sales, it also harbors risks that you should watch out for. Here are some of the possible risks that you should keep in mind.

Risk of loss

This strategy can result in a significant loss for businesses if they do not closely monitor the sale of other items positioned next to the loss leader. The risk is that customers can only buy the loss leader, also known as the cherry harvest. In addition, with a high frequency of discounts, you can encourage your customers to pause the purchase until you announce the next discount.

Out of Stock

If you decide to turn a product into a loser, you need enough of it to continue to sell. You cannot afford to have a product that you use to attract customers to sell.


If the loss leader price is too high to ignore, customers can buy it in bulk and keep it for later use. You can avoid this problem by limiting the purchase quantities or only offering products with a limited shelf life and thus preventing stockpiling.

Price Perception

If you continue with the high discount, you risk giving the impression that the product should always have a lower price. Effect on the sale of the item when it returns to the normal price.

In addition, those who only buy loss leaders often believe that other items in the store are considered ridiculously high.

Effects on small businesses

Large companies with their deep pockets benefit the most from loss leaders. You can also use your purchasing volume in negotiations with suppliers and receive the cheapest offers. Because their costs are lower, their losses from loss-making prices are lower compared to small businesses. You can afford to hit some products to make profit on other items. Small businesses cannot afford to cut and lose prices so much.

Strategy of the Loss Leader

The loss leader's strategy may seem simple, but it is difficult. There is no guarantee that a company will make more money if it loses money on certain items.

To mitigate this, you may want to set up a reward program. By encouraging regular customers to earn discounts, the product behind the discount keeps its value. This gives the impression that the low price is a special offer that they deserve. Airlines use frequent flyer awards to promote loyalty. Credit card companies also offer discounts on the use of their cards when making a purchase.

Make sure you are assigning the correct product to a loss leader title. If the price of an obscure, unpopular product is lowered drastically, nobody may notice it. If your loss lead is a common product that customers buy on a regular basis, you are more likely to buy it.

Pricing is important to the success of Loss Leader. The price cannot be so low that your company cannot make up for the losses. So you have to set the price carefully. In this way, the loss must result in more products being bought. It is important that you make up for your loss from other sales.

Although pricing with loss leaders is a good strategy to build traffic to a store, you would need to make sure that you are actually making an incremental profit, not a significant loss. The careful combination of discounts and reward systems helps mitigate customers' negative perception of your products.


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