“Why OEMs Must Re-invent Competitive Parts Pricing”: Paying Price of In-action ?| Accenture

” In the spare-parts market, overpriced and under-priced parts translate into lost sales & lost opportunities”…

Losing ground to parts-suppliers and wholesalers in an increasingly crowded marketplace, savvy OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) know that things must change in competitive parts pricing.

OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) know that things must change :

It is about understanding the real competitors, identifying customers’ price sensitivities, determining the right market positioning for each parts category, and improving dealer and customer communications and incentives.

While it can often be difficult to eek back parts market share, there are examples where it can be possible with targeted pricing actions across specific parts categories.

A strong case for change – Spare parts make up approximately ten percent of total sales, up to half of net income. Of this, the competitive parts segment generally makes up more than 50 % of parts sales—and is the main focus of parts pricing managers.

Yet are branded OEMs doomed to be uncompetitive in the world of spare parts pricing and sales? Reversing the trend of OEMs failing to make the most of competitive parts pricing demands a strategic, systematic approach across the whole portfolio of parts.

Different than traditional cost-plus pricing, this approach puts the customer first, incorporating not only the value they place on various features and offering components, but also their reasons for selecting a brand, and their buying contexts. Doing so helps companies derive maximum profitability with a comprehensive pricing strategy for competitive parts rooted in competitor, customer, category, channel and cost inputs.

The result can be a marked increase in revenues—typically 10 to 20% — and enhanced customer loyalty and brand differentiation.

Pricing and the spare-parts Life-cycle: 

At the most fundamental level, a spare part’s price should reflect its life-cycle stage. Timelines vary among parts—some stay price leaders for several years, while some may become competitive within a few months, but all parts include these stages:

1. Initial stage – In the initial stage, captive pricing is in order for parts.

This is a relatively straightforward approach in which the OEM is the price leader, and sets the price that most competitors will follow. The low level of competition allows the OEM to optimize price according to the customer-perceived value of a given part.

2. Competitive stage – During this intensely competitive phase,manufacturers can see their market share plummet.

They need to gather intelligence and analysis through industrialized processes and tools to maintain an agile position in a constantly changing market.

3. End-of-life stage – When a part nears product obsolescence, the OEM typically resumes dominant market position.

During the phase-out stage, many competitors will no longer stay in the market due to reduced demand. At this point, the OEM can resume its captive pricing approach based on perceived value, in addition to second and third owner considerations.

Unlocking performance and profitability : 

“Economic uncertainty, Cost conscious customers, High earnings expectations More competitors”. These are just some of the forces shaping the spare parts market—one in which OEMs are losing market share.

As manufacturers focus on increasing shareholder value in this environment, there are three levers that can directly improve a company’s profitability and stock price: revenue enhancement, asset productivity and cost containment. Consider the revenue enhancement lever through strategic parts pricing.

If done well, pricing can provide a large return on investment, significantly outdistancing efforts to increase sales or cut costs. In fact, in the automotive space, just a 1%  increase in average prices can lift EBITDA by anywhere from 15 to 25 %. What’s more, most pricing initiatives pay off in only 6 to 12 months.

This data strengthens the case for the importance of getting pricing right. Working with OEM clients across industries, Accenture’s experience reinforces the potential pay-off of strategic service parts pricing approaches. Automotive, household appliance and heavy equipment and industrial machinery clients have realized up to 15 to 20 %  in annual gains as a result of strategic pricing initiatives.

Savvy OEM leaders are aware of the impact of the pricing lever on growth and performance. An Accenture survey of 1,000 CXO-level leaders in various industries across 12 countries in North America, Europe and Asia, offers a view into their thinking.

The majority of survey respondents have seen sales and volume growth, profits and market share increase as a result of price optimization. Further, nearly two-thirds of companies gain responsiveness and revenues as a result of price optimization.

And increased pricing and promotion market responsiveness and optimizing price-to-segment/customer are among this group’s emerging pricing concerns.

Moving through barriers to change : 

With pricing such a powerful lever of profit improvement—and leadership recognizing its importance—why are OEMs stalling when it comes to spare parts pricing? In many cases, their inaction is related to a number of tough challenges :

Resource shortage – Finished goods often have more dedicated pricing managers and higher budgets, which translates into resource strain on the spare parts side of the business.

Parts overload – The typical OEM can manage 50,000 to 500,000+ parts with approximately 1 to 20 full-time employees for pricing.

Insufficient data – Spare parts pricing teams often must work with bad or suspect information, few benchmarks and incomplete inputs that make it impossible to effectively quantify and track results.

Knowledge drain – Turnover and on-shore reliance has led to limited throughput or capacity.

Channel resistance – Many OEMs typically have a reputation for being overpriced, which stems, in part from, inconsistent pricing and a general lack of dealer confidence in price-setting policies. This can translate into push-back and poor adoption rates.

Inertia – Many OEMs are well established and operate at scale, which can make it difficult to quickly mobilize strategic change, adapt to market shifts and alter longstanding processes.

Industry isolation – Resources tend to develop and remain in the OEM industry, which limits manufacturers’ ability to adopt leading practices pioneered elsewhere.

These challenges add up to inconsistent pricing for many OEMs. This, in turn, has created common consumer perceptions that OEM parts are overpriced due to mysterious “black box” pricing and price spikes when a part goes out of production.

Getting aligned with consumers : 

This issue of consumer perception is a deeply rooted one—and it must be remedied for manufacturers to truly move the needle on strategic pricing. In other words, OEMs cannot “get into the ballpark” on market-based competitive parts pricing unless they bridge the disconnection between how they currently set prices and how consumers estimate them.

Take the example of the automotive industry. Consumers’ price estimates and perceptions reflect inputs like make and model, part size and complexity, past parts purchasing experiences and even insights from family and friends or the neighborhood mechanic.

And for many types of repair, consumers are more concerned about overall service costs, not just specific parts pricing. At the end of the day, most people simply want the problem with their car fixed—and they are often willing to make brand trade-offs to get it done, depending on the urgency of their situation.

On the other hand, manufacturers may be setting prices only with the context of the cost to manufacture and category margin goals. From the consumer perspective, resulting prices can appear illogical, even arbitrary. Prices perceived as too high could make consumers’ product failures even more negative experiences. Prices perceived as too low could unnecessarily erode the manufacturer’s margins.

Either way, pricing inconsistency is a threat to the manufacturer’s brand image, which cannot be taken lightly in a market where there is intense competition from all sides. Changing this dynamic means that manufacturers need to start thinking more like their customers when it comes to competitive parts pricing.

Looking ahead : 

In such a high-stakes environment, the price of inaction is simply too great. Reinventing competitive spare parts pricing is a must for OEMs to build market share for key spare parts while achieving strong margins across their competitive parts portfolios.

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