Pricing Part 3 – Comparative Pricing for Commodities

This blog is the third in a series about how companies price goods and services. Each week we will ask a question for discussion that will lead into the next week’s blog. The series will conclude next week with some analysis of our pricing philosophy at HOCK international and our sister companies HOCK Training and HOCK Conferencing.

Last week, we discussed pricing theory in reality and how sellers’ discounting practices can put buyers at a disadvantage. We ended last week’s post by asking if exam-based training is like a commodity.

I believe that exam-based training has become a commodity, but only to some extent. It is like a commodity because all of the different materials or courses that are offered should contain the same topics and information because every training company has the same access to the exam syllabus and questions. Additionally, every product should have the same goal of helping you pass the exam.

However, exam-based training is not completely a commodity, because there are different ways to prepare for the exam – different teaching methodologies, different teachers/writers, different uses of technology, different support policies, etc. What a candidate has to do is sort through all of the information to determine which course will prepare them to pass the exam at the lowest cost – in terms of time, effort, and money.

As with every product or service, the cost of a course should correspond with what the company is providing. For example, if Company A charges more for their course than Company B, then Company A should provide something more than Company B – better materials, better teachers, better support, more convenient study options, or anything that adds additional value. If Company A is not able to justify their higher price, then you should choose to study with Company B. Unfortunately, this evaluation is not easy because many companies are not completely honest when they present their products or services, or they try to charge you for things (like a brand name) that do not help you pass the exam.

There are numerous discussions online where new exam candidates ask about materials. These new candidates are often overwhelmed by the choices and greatly appreciate honest assessments of the different materials. We encourage candidates who have studied or are studying to share their thoughts and reviews about the materials that they have used.

This week’s question is: What factors are (or were) important to you when you were choosing exam materials, other than price? And, how were you able to assess these factors before choosing?

Leave a comment with your thoughts, and next week we will conclude with HOCK’s Policy for Pricing and Discounts.

Brian Hock, CMA, CIA