Have you ever bought a CPU, monitor, keyboard and mouse for one packaged price? Have you eaten a McDonald’s Value Meal? If you have, you have been “bundled.”
Bundling is a very common marketing practice. In fact, you have probably bought many “bundles” without even realizing it. But, believe me, the marketers in the companies doing the bundling have thought a lot about it.
Bundling involves combining two or more products and/or services together to create a new product that can be marketed as one package. While the concept sounds simple, there are many forms of bundling. For example,
Pure bundling offers a package that cannot be broken apart. A good example of this is a new car. You wouldn’t buy one without the tires, would you?
- Mixed bundling offers customers the choice of buying the entire package or some or all of the components. For example, burger chains offer combo meals, but customers can buy each of the items separately.
- Bundling also includes tie-in sales: buy a product and get a discount on goods necessary to use the product. For example, if you buy a printer, you get a discount on the ink.
- Add-on bundling offers an item only if the main item is purchased. Get your car waxed free with the purchase of a car wash.
- Sales rebates, coupons and cross-couponing are also bundling strategies. For instance, get a coupon for cookies if you buy our milk.
Bundling can enhance your pricing, delivery, loyalty or customer service. So let’s consider ways bundling may be your ultimate marketing weapon. Consider these possible strategies, and identify ways they might work for your business:
- Bundling can be used to introduce a new product or service. Either bundle the new product with a familiar item, or enhance its perceived value with the added incentive of an additional product tied to it. Familiar household items like plug-in air fresheners or shower cleaner dispensers are great examples. The actual dispenser of the product is sold as a bundle with the refills.
- Bundling can be used to make customers aware of a little known or undervalued product. Not enough sales of that new dessert at your restaurant? Offer a sample size with every entrée.
- Bundling can disguise your pricing strategy – one price for several items gives the perception of a “deal” and obscures the price of each individual piece.
- Bundling can shape customer-buying practices. Microsoft is so successful because they package their software with new computers. (How many PC-based businesses don’t use Microsoft Word or Microsoft Explorer?) Tide became the product of choice for many homemakers after they used the sample that came in their washing machines. (OK, so I’m dating myself.)
- Bundling can simplify life for a customer. A computer package with CPU, monitor, keyboard and mouse offers a “one stop” shopping experience, and also assures that all components will be compatible. (Now if only all software packages worked that way!)
- Bundling can be used to help tie customers to you and your products, increasing customer loyalty. While discounts may be offered for bundles, (as in the case of insurance companies offering a discount if homeowners and auto insurance policies are purchased together) the value to customers may lie more in the efficiency that results from using a single supplier for multiple products. We continue to see cable operators and telephone companies bundling phone, Internet, and TV with the promise that it’s easier to deal with one company and one bill.
- Bundling can also be used as a premium to enhance the attractiveness of your service. If you are a real estate agent, for example, offering a staging service as part of your package to prospective sellers can enhance your value.
Now it’s your turn to get creative! Consider the bundling examples above and brainstorm ways to apply them to your business. Think of ways to help your customers solve problems, save time, or enhance their lives!