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MAP Pricing: What is it, and Why is it Important?

MAP Pricing: What is it, and Why is it Important?

“Don’t advertise below this price if you want to stay out of trouble – That’s assuming I’m watching you at all times.”

Brands and manufacturers have to deal with the hurdles of staying on top of their minimum advertised pricing, or MAP, policies. It’s important – their profit margins, brand integrity and seller relationships depend on it.

But what is MAP pricing? And how do brands and manufacturers stay on top of it?

Here’s everything you need to know about MAP pricing policies, and why they’re so important in today’s ever-changing online world of eCommerce.

What is MAP Pricing?

MAP stands for Minimum Advertised Price. MAP pricing a legal document brands and manufacturers use to define the lowest price a reseller can advertise a product or service for sale.

Note that it’s not the lowest price a reseller can sell the product or service – just the lowest price they can advertise or show online, such as in an advertisement, or the listing on their website.

For example, let’s say Walmart mas a MAP price of $499 for the PlayStation 5. If Walmart wants to make an ad, then it can’t advertise the console for lower than $499 – print or online, the rules are the same.

MAP pricing doesn’t just set the minimum price. It also outlines penalties for violating the minimum advertised price, and the process to follow if a seller is caught in violation.

MAP policies should always be created with the help of a lawyer. They’re situation-specific, so brands should never use a generic, cookie-cutter MAP policy. A lawyer can help you craft a policy tailored to you, that suits your business goals and needs.

The difference between MAP pricing and MSRP? MSRP is another common price policy term, and stands for Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. It refers to what the manufacturer believes the product should sell for – it’s a suggestion for what the actual price of the product should be, while a MAP policy focuses on what the product should be advertised for. That’s the difference.

Minimum advertised pricing only addresses the advertised price of a product or service – it does not dictate to a retailer what they can sell it for in their store. As such, MAP pricing is legal under U.S. antitrust statutes.

There are MAPs for almost every product on the market, depending on where you are in the world, and these policies are extensive. Brands and manufacturers invest a lot of time in creating these MAPs, and have highly vested interests in monitoring the market for MAP violations – this is known as MAP monitoring.

But why are they so important? What’s the point of setting a MAP pricing policy in the first place?

Why is MAP Pricing Important?

MAP policies are important for various reasons, and come with a mountainside of benefits.

Perks of MAP pricing include:

  • They insulate your brand identity from price erosion and price wars
  • They protect your ability to sell and, hence, your profit margins
  • They establish trust between you and your resellers
MAP pricing insulates your brand identity

MAP policies are common with brands that rely on their brand identity, such as luxury goods, where much of the company’s value stems from the consumers’ perception of the lure of the product. Brands such as these have a vested interest in maintaining a certain level of exclusivity and quality.

Pricing plays a significant role in this. If one of the brands’ resellers drops the price down too low, then this can indicate poor quality to the customers.

Resellers lowering the price of the products on certain sites, but not others, can also lead to different impressions of the brand’s product, depending on where the consumers come across it online. As such, price violations can lead to inconsistencies in how consumers experience the brand online, getting in the way of nurturing a unified, consistent brand experience.

A properly enforced MAP pricing policy, then, can help protect the brand’s consumer perceptions.

Brands can stay on top of their sellers’ pricing with website monitoring tools, like Visualping. Visualping automatically monitors any web pages you want, and any number of pages, and alerts you of price changes, so you always keep an eye out for price changes that potentially violate your policies.

Want to monitor your retailers’ MAP pricing?

Sign up with Visualping to monitor your resellers’ MAP pricing from any web page – before your brand is on the line.

STEP 1: Enter the URL you want to monitor
STEP 2: Enter your email address
MAP pricing protects the brands’ – and retailers’ – profit margins

MAP pricing protects the brand or manufacturer’s profit margins because it helps keep their prices competitive, insulting their ability to sell their own product.

Often, resellers who violate MAP policies are just after a temporary advantage; they’ve got their eye on Amazon’s buy box, or they know other sellers offer a better product and they’re trying to cut ahead by dismembering the price. If they’re selling out of their garage and they’re the only employee, they can afford to dramatically dismember prices.

Your other sellers may respond by lowering their prices, in turn, in order to maintain their competitive advantage. But the original violator will just keep dropping the price, until nobody is making a profit selling your products.

It’s a race-to-the-bottom price war, and everyone loses – especially you. MAP pricing, then, establishes a floor for the market, protecting your ability to sell your own product.

But it just doesn’t benefit the brand or manufacturer – it also benefits the other sellers involved. MAP policies standardize price expectations across all marketing channels.

Considering most resellers aren’t looking for a race to the bottom – everyone wants to make a profit – MAP pricing helps ensure you, and your resellers, that everyone is on the same playing field.

Further, while MAPs have somewhat of a bad reputation for affecting sales, they only affect advertising – not sales. A MAP pricing policy does not touch the final sale price of a product. The brand and resellers are free to sell the product at whatever price point they like.

Map pricing helps establish trust with your resellers

Just like you don’t want a price war, neither do your sellers. Your best partners are making the effort to follow your price policies, so it’s frustrating to them when their competitors are violating your price policies and getting away with it.

A price war also threatens their own margins. And if you aren’t willing to put in the work to monitor and enforce your MAP policy, they may not be willing to continue putting in the effort to sell your product and deal with less scrupulous sellers.

How to Stay on Top of Your MAP Pricing: Visualping

To get started with a MAP monitoring tool that will alert you as soon as price changes amongst your resellers occur, simply navigate to Visualping’s homepage, and copy and paste the URL of the page you want to track.

Next, you customize your monitoring settings, such as the part of the page you want monitored, how often you want the page checked, and the email address you want the alerts sent to.

And you’re done!

Step-by-step instructions on how to monitor your MAP pricing

Step 1: Search your page. Copy and paste the product URL you want to monitor into the search field on Visualping’s homepage. Click Go.

Step 2: Once the page appears in the viewport, select the part of the page you want monitored. For tracking products, this is the part of the page surrounding the price.

Step 3: Specify the frequency you want the page checked – every 5 minutes, 30 minutes, hourly, daily, etc.

Step 4: Type the email address you want the alerts sent to. Click Start Monitoring, and that’s it! You’re set to get notified of deals.

Step 5: Visualping will send you an email, asking you to make a password for your account. Don’t forget to do this. The password completes your account, and allows you to login to your user-dashboard, where you can view all your Visualping monitors and email alerts in one location.

Perform these steps as many times as you wish to monitor many resellers at one time, and create a watch list.

Visualping takes automatic screenshots of the page at regular intervals – every 5 minutes, 30 minutes, hourly, daily, etc – and compares each image to the last to check for changes.

Level up your MAP pricing monitoring capabilities

MAP monitoring is critical to your long-term success as an ecommerce brand.

Protecting your price doesn’t just benefit you. It serves your customers and your sellers, too.

Visualping is an easy-to-use website monitoring tool that can track price changes, in real-time, amongst your resellers for you. The user dashboard makes it easy to view pierce change alerts all in one spot, and to go back and view changes over time to detect any patterns and associations.

With Visualping, MAP monitoring is made much more manageable.

Get a demo to see Visualping in action.

Happy MAP pricing monitoring!

Want to be sure a web page is always compliant?

Sign up with Visualping to detect issues from any web page – before your business is on the line.

Want to be sure a web page is always compliant?

Start Monitoring Now (It's Free)

Want to be sure a web page is always compliant?

Sign up with Visualping to detect issues from any web page – before your business is on the line.

Start Monitoring Now (It's Free)

Emily Fenton

Emily is the Content Marketing Manager at Visualping. She has a degree in English Literature and a Masters in Management. When she’s not researching and writing about all things Visualping, she loves exploring new restaurants, playing guitar and petting her cats.