The New York Times subscription pricing was a mess. For a long time their pricing suffered from three major errors
- No branding for versions – Let alone branding, there was no names for the multiple different versions they offered. It was simply a mix of features and a price point thrown in. It is very important to define your version and create positioning in the minds of customers. At the very least this helps create shortcut for customers to know what they are buying and at best makes them feel good about what they are buying.
- Too many choices – Is there really a right number of versions to offer? The right answer is there isn’t but more often in practice 3 has become the Goldilocks number. The Times had four with the fourth one a forced one.
- Wrong Value Allocation Among Versions: For versioning to be effective it must clearly show value differences among them. More precisely, the customers must perceive the value difference, see them as fair and be able to self-select to the right one. The Times had drawn value boundaries wrong – it created versions at different price points based on type of digital access. It tried to charge add-on for smartphone and tablet access over web access. So its pricing for Web+Smartphone+Tablet came to $8.75 vs. just Web+Smartphone at $3.75 and Web+Tablet at $5.
Customers do not see access to same content through their multiple devices as additional value and do not want to pay for it. If you are creating 3 versions the customers must see clear value differences among them.
I am glad to see Times finally fixed their pricing errors. Here is their new pricing page:
The versions all have a name.
No more contrived versions at multiple price points.
They don’t charge extra for smartphone or tablet access and created versions based on newer benefits, “Times Insider Access”.
That is fixing past pricing mistakes.
You are welcome The New York Times.