I am currently developing a software and planning to sell it as a downloadable product. There are already competitors on the market out there and their pricing is too low. What I think is that the software I am developing will help my customers a lot and save time (and enough unique selling points compared to competitors'). When I make a pricing calculation based on the time my product saves for my customers, the result is much higher than what competitors' prices, something like $400 to ~$60. So my question is, entering a competitive market with higher pricing is a suicide?
Thanks for the thoughts!
The question is purely about marketing. You can successfully sell a product at $1 000 while the competitors sell their product at $30. Just because you use correct marketing techniques, proper advertisement, attractive packaging, etc.
If Windows is still the most used operating system while Linux is free, do you believe that the only reason is that Windows is so much better (by the way, better for who? to do what? how to evaluate which one is better? based on what criteria?)?
If you are targeting bad the customers of your product, and you don't have people with marketing skills in your company, this would be a suicide. You can even distribute your product for free, nobody will use it.
When I make a pricing calculation based on the time my product saves for my customersThe price of a product is measured from a bunch of elements:
The price that your competitors charge is only one of many signals that you should consider when setting a price. I think it's good that you're focusing on the value that you're bringing your customers. As other have pointed out, that can be hard to quantify, but it's still very important.
I'd say there are five important factors that determine any startup's price:
1. Cover the costs of production. This includes the salaries of your engineers and your average cost of customer acquisition, including marketing and sales costs. At minimum, your price should cover these costs.
2. Charge for the value you're brining to customers. This is something a lot of startups ignore. If you're offering a product or service that bring substantial value to your customers, make sure you charge for that. Consider using a pricing structure that lets you extract more values from customers as they get more benefit out of your product, like charging for each additional user/login on a corporate account.
3. Consider what your competitors are charging. This can help, but it can also hurt. If you're going to be charging substantially more than your competitors, you need to know why. And you need to be able to explain why to your custom when they inevitably ask during the sales process. Plan ahead for this.
4. Consider economic signals. As others have mentioned, high prices can indicate high quality. I've heard stories of several startups who were more successful after raising prices -- without substantially improving their product. If what you're offering is a premium service, you should compete on quality, not prices. And in most cases, higher price points imply higher quality. Use that to your advantage.
5. Make the price relatable. The only way you'll ever make a sale is if you can convince your potential customers that the value of your product is higher than the cost you're charging. Humans can be surprisingly irrational when it comes to judging value. Put the cost of your product in terms that are relatable to them.
A great example of this was JibJab raising their price from $9.99 per year to $12 per year and seeing their conversions go up -- now their product was "only a dollar a month!" which seemed like a better deal since the price was more relatable.
I wrote about most of these factors in this blog post:
http://blog.hartleybrody.com/2011/09/the-5-essential-factors-to-determine-your-products-price/ I'd encourage you to do some experimenting to see what works best for your company in your industry. It's a very specific and sensitive issue for any business and it's hard to offer one-size-fits-all advice.
Since this is a serious issue, you should consider reading these books:
Don't Just Roll The Dice - A usefully short guide to software pricing Software Product Management and Pricing: Key Success Factors for Software Organizations Pricing with Confidence: 10 Ways to Stop Leaving Money on the Table
"When I make a pricing calculation based on the time my product saves for my customers, the result is much higher than what competitors' prices."
But the value of time isn't objective.
People will spend a half-hour driving around to find 3 cents less for a gallon of gas and save $5.... they value themselves at $10 per hour.
Websites are even a worse example. I get calls asking me to take a few hours to 'spruce up a website I made for my own business'. Total time they invested? 60+ hrs. If I cost is $1200 that's $20 an hour self-value.
So if the premise of your marketing (and it is) is that 'people are rational' then that just won't work. There are endless articles on the web about the reluctance of people to change their mind despite (what you think is) hard evidence.
The folks that charge $60 do so because a web app is a gallon of milk and folks don't pay $25 for that even if it's demonstrably better. To me (and most others), a piece of really good shareware is $15-$20. An app does does it all, Photoshop, MSWord, etc. is a $99-$499 gallon of milk. So an app that does one specific thing well is perhaps to me in the realm of $25-$50.