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Cost-based price and value-based price: are they conflicting approaches?

Reinaldo Guerreiro (Accounting, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil)
Juliana Ventura Amaral (Accounting, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 3 April 2018




While the gap between economic theory and companies’ practice, regarding to the pricing setting, has been extensively explored and explained, the new gap between the marketing normative view and companies’ practice needs further clarification. In this way, the paper aims to investigate whether marketing researchers’ claim that the use of cost-based price approach prevails over the use of value-based price approach is pertinent.


The paper is guided by the following research question: “Does price-setting based on cost plus margin go against the value-based price approach?” The answer to this question is grounded in reflections on results of previous research studies and in a case study conducted in an industrial company. Because of the qualitative focus of the present study, hypotheses are not established, but rather the following proposition: certain companies use the mechanics of cost plus margin in the sale price-setting process, but it does not necessarily mean that these companies set prices based on cost.


The arguments, propositions and the case study findings provide the logical sequence and the support required to conclude that price-setting based on cost plus margin does not always conflict with the value-based price approach. As a result, it may be claimed that the general proposition established is theoretically valid, i.e. using a price formula that contains the elements cost and margin does not necessarily mean that the company sets prices based on cost.


The key contribution of this paper is demonstrating that in certain business environments, such as, B2B, using the price formation mechanics based on cost plus margin is the way found by companies to enable the approach adopted. The approach may be cost-based or value-based price. This is the first study that explicitly reveals how B2B companies may set prices based on value while simultaneously preserving the simplicity of cost plus margin formulas. Researchers have significant misconceptions about these formulas: in previous studies, they classified all price-making companies as those adopting the cost-based price approach simply because they used formulas containing the element cost.



Guerreiro, R. and Amaral, J.V. (2018), "Cost-based price and value-based price: are they conflicting approaches?", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 390-404.



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