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Penetration Pricing vs. Skimming Pricing: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 23, 2023
Penetration pricing sets low initial prices to attract customers and gain market share, while skimming pricing starts high, targeting early adopters before lowering prices.

Key Differences

Penetration pricing strategy involves setting low prices to quickly attract a large number of customers and gain market share. Skimming pricing, in contrast, sets high initial prices aimed at maximizing profits from customers less sensitive to price.
With penetration pricing, businesses often aim to establish a strong market presence and discourage competitors. Skimming pricing is used to recover research and development costs, targeting early adopters willing to pay a premium.
Penetration pricing is typically used in markets with high competition, where a low price can be a significant differentiator. Skimming pricing is often employed for innovative or unique products with little initial competition.
In penetration pricing, the focus is on volume sales and long-term customer loyalty. Skimming pricing focuses on maximizing short-term profits before competitors enter the market.
Penetration pricing can involve a risk of perceived low quality due to low prices. In skimming pricing, the risk is in alienating price-sensitive customers and attracting quick competition.

Comparison Chart

Initial Price Setting

Low to attract a broad customer base
High to maximize early profits

Market Target

Large customer base, high competition markets
Early adopters, markets with low initial competition

Sales Focus

High volume, long-term market presence
High margin, short-term profit maximization

Price Evolution

May increase after market penetration
Decreases as competition increases


Perceived low quality, thin profit margins
Alienating price-sensitive customers, attracting competitors

Penetration Pricing and Skimming Pricing Definitions

Penetration Pricing

Pricing aimed at gaining a large market share rapidly.
By adopting penetration pricing, the smartphone brand became popular in price-sensitive markets.

Skimming Pricing

A strategy used for unique or innovative products with minimal competition.
The game console was introduced with skimming pricing due to its unique features.

Penetration Pricing

A competitive pricing approach to undercut existing market players.
The discount retailer's penetration pricing strategy disrupted the local market.

Skimming Pricing

Setting initial high prices that lower over time as competition increases.
Skimming pricing allowed the company to initially recoup its research and development investments.

Penetration Pricing

Setting prices low enough to discourage new competitors.
Their penetration pricing effectively prevented the entry of new competitors in the market.

Skimming Pricing

A pricing strategy of setting high initial prices for new products.
The tech company used skimming pricing for its latest high-end gadget.

Penetration Pricing

A strategy of setting low initial prices to quickly attract customers.
The new streaming service used penetration pricing to quickly build its subscriber base.

Skimming Pricing

Targeting early adopters willing to pay premium prices.
Luxury brands often use skimming pricing to appeal to affluent consumers.

Penetration Pricing

A low-price introduction to build a customer base.
The startup used penetration pricing to attract early users for its app.

Skimming Pricing

Maximizing short-term profits before market saturation.
The pharmaceutical company applied skimming pricing for its innovative drug.


When is skimming pricing most effective?

For innovative products with little initial competition.

What are the risks of penetration pricing?

Risks include perceived low quality and thin profit margins.

Is penetration pricing suitable for luxury products?

Rarely, as it may devalue the perceived worth of luxury items.

What is skimming pricing?

It's a pricing strategy of setting high initial prices to maximize early profits.

When is penetration pricing most effective?

In highly competitive markets to quickly gain market share.

What are the risks of skimming pricing?

Risks include alienating price-sensitive customers and attracting competitors.

What is penetration pricing?

It's a pricing strategy of setting low initial prices to attract a large customer base.

Does skimming pricing always involve lowering prices eventually?

Yes, typically as competition increases, prices are lowered.

How does skimming pricing impact early sales volume?

It may limit early sales volume to higher-paying customers.

Can a business switch from skimming to penetration pricing?

Yes, particularly as market dynamics and competition change.

Can skimming pricing lead to a high-end brand image?

Yes, it can position a product as premium or luxury.

Can penetration pricing lead to brand loyalty?

Yes, if combined with quality products and services.

Is skimming pricing suitable for common consumer goods?

Not usually, as it's better for unique or high-end products.

How does penetration pricing affect profit margins?

It often results in lower initial profit margins.

Does skimming pricing help recover R&D costs quickly?

Yes, it's effective for recouping investment on innovative products.

How long should penetration pricing be maintained?

Until significant market share is achieved.

Can penetration pricing deter new competitors?

Yes, by establishing a strong market presence and low price points.

How long is skimming pricing typically used?

Until significant competition emerges.

Is penetration pricing sustainable long-term?

It can be, if it leads to volume sales and brand loyalty.

Should small businesses use penetration or skimming pricing?

It depends on their market, competition, and product uniqueness.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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