The Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) is a standard representing the lowest price at which a reseller is allowed to advertise a product. It’s crucial to be aware that any Resale price maintenance (RPM) undertaken by manufacturers might become illegal, if paired with certain restrictions or enforced too rigidly. While manufacturers legally can’t dictate the price points for their resellers, it’s an established practice for resellers to adhere to an anticipated Recommended Retail Price or Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), a pricing suggestion provided by the manufacturer to the retailer.
Frequently, manufacturers conduct meticulous market research and analysis to establish their product price levels. It’s therefore understandable for manufacturers to be concerned about pricing, given its direct impact on their financial results. Pricing that is too low may trigger losses, while a price that is too high could deter potential buyers. Hence, they employ MAP policies to strike the right balance in pricing, particularly if they offer cooperative advertising funds to their resellers. This discussion is about how to use MAP policies effectively and within the legal framework.
What Exactly is a MAP Policy?
A Minimum Advertised Price policy is a contractual document implemented by a manufacturer. Note that resale price maintenance might easily fall into unlawful practices.
An intelligent MAP policy encompasses the manufacturer’s plan on cultivating value with its product for the reseller. This policy details marketing support, planned price levels, and joint marketing endeavors that the retailer or reseller can leverage if they abide by the guidelines. Rather than imposing penalties for non-compliance with the policy, it is more beneficial to focus on the advantages you can offer.
Naturally, amidst intense retail competition, manufacturers are compelled to protect their product’s perceived value and quality. Implementing a MAP policy becomes crucial in such situations, even though it might tread on legality.
Here’s how a wise MAP policy benefits both parties:
Promotes fair competition across different storefronts
Constructs a brand that supports your resellers
Preserves profit margins for all involved
Guarantees consistency in product value and returns
Prevents underpricing of products, while providing support for the reseller to manage it
Who Gets Affected by The Minimum Advertised Price Policy?
In today’s highly competitive marketplace, sellers are constantly innovating to outshine the competition, even if it means slashing prices to unlikely levels.
The majority of manufacturing brands depend on these pricing structures to stay relevant in their target market.
Take fashion brands as an example, which place a premium on products to sustain the perceived quality of their merchandise. When retailers offer these products at steeply discounted prices, it jeopardizes the brand image and reputation of the manufacturer.
This can also lead to a discrepancy in the brand’s image as customers often question them about these price inconsistencies. It additionally risks alienating resellers who stick to the recommended pricing strategy.
In a nutshell, a MAP policy can assist both retailers/resellers and manufacturers in resolving any uncertainties about pricing, ensuring harmony across all stakeholders.
What Does Violating Minimum Advertised Price Policy Imply?
If an online reseller advertises a product at a price lower than that specified in the MAP policy, it results in a violation. Consequently, the manufacturer has the right to impose penalties as defined in the MAP agreement.
Here’s how a manufacturer can address this situation:
· Initially, identify all resellers who have violations against them
· Inform all resellers about the impending enforcement of the MAP
· Caution resellers to adhere to the MAP or face the possibility of being banned as a reseller
· Issue an initial warning to the violators
· Blacklist habitual violators, prohibiting them from redistributing your products
· Regularly monitor MAP prices across all distribution channels
Although many manufacturers draft a reseller policy of some sort, they often overlook the need to make sure retailers and resellers are informed about it.
That’s why manufacturers need to explicitly communicate their MAP policy to all their resellers upfront. They can then use an automated system like Sniffie to monitor pricing across all internet channels.
For resellers and retailers, it’s crucial to evade these MAP policy violations because once blacklisted by one manufacturer, others may follow suit.
Their entire operation can be halted if word gets out that they’re banned from selling certain brands. This means they won’t have access to products necessary to entice buyers, resulting in diminished store traffic and overall sales decline.
Sellers can utilize software like Sniffie to keep track of their prices across different channels to ensure they’re in alignment with the manufacturer’s MAP guidelines.
How Can MAP Policy Violations be Avoided?
If you’re a reseller or retailer, Minimum Advertised Price violations can cause irreversible harm to your reputation and financial health.
Before signing any agreement, you must research and comprehend the MAP policies applicable to the products sold at your store.
When you enter into an agreement with a manufacturer, it’s imperative to understand how to correctly advertise and sell their products online to avoid negative repercussions to your business.
Whether a manufacturer labels it as ‘branding’ or ‘pricing’ guidelines, a MAP is recognized as a legal pricing agreement between the retailer/reseller and the manufacturer.
Pricing agreements are viewed seriously by the law and their breach can jeopardize businesses for both retailers and manufacturers.
If you’re unsure about the MAP policy, seek advice from an attorney or an antitrust lawyer to help you delve into the subject – this advice holds true for both retailers and manufacturers.
It’s always advisable for both parties to discuss their concerns and try to negotiate the clauses of the MAP policy before finalizing it.
Overcoming Internal Factors That Lead To MAP Violations
Retailers often subject their sales teams to extreme pressure, pushing them to meet sales targets at any cost. This can result in offering large volume discounts and advertising prices lower than the MAP to achieve these objectives.
Occasionally, manufacturer’s marketing teams fail to convey their strategic pricing issues, leaving teams frustrated for not meeting their targets, leading to resource wastage and lower productivity.
Retailers find themselves in a quandary during sales season when they struggle with pricing while also trying to avoid MAP policy violations.
Treat the resellers equitably and assist them in selling excess inventory in alignment with your policies as a manufacturer.
It might also be a wise idea to develop a Sales Playbook to boost productivity across the sales team. This helps outline best practices for them and promotes your products as a manufacturer.
A sales playbook includes:
· Sales procedures
· Buyer personas
· Call agendas and scripts
· Sample emails
· Discovery, demo, and qualification questions
· Proposal and competitive intelligence guidelines
These tools can help the sales team achieve their targets while adhering to the principles of a MAP policy.
It’s also beneficial to use software like Sniffie to gather actionable data. Creating real-life scenarios for your sales team helps them avoid MAP violations and other potential complications.
Such exercises ensure everyone on your team understands their role in maximizing business returns, including your retail/reselling partners.
Are you prepared to refine your MAP guidelines with Sniffie’s comprehensive suite of pricing tools? Get in touch today!