What is Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)?

What does Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price mean?

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What is MSRP?

The price that manufacturers recommend to their retailers to sell a certain product. You will often find the MSRP clearly displayed on products that you find in stores, on both small disposable as well as large items. The MSRP is also known as the list price, sticker price, recommended retail price (RRP), or the suggested retail price (SRP).

When buying items online via ecommerce stores, you will also find that the MSRP is available. The displaying of the MSRP allows for the fair trading of goods, although the retailer is not obliged to sell the products at the suggested retail price if he does not wish to. An example of where you will find a mark upon the MSRP is in late-night convenience stores that are open twenty-four hours a day. It is also possible for the retailer to sell items below the MSRP if they are trying to get slow moving inventory off the shelves.

Understanding the MSRP

One industry that relies heavily on the MSRP is the automotive industry. By law the MSRP must be clearly displayed on new automobiles for sale, and this number is usually the starting point for negotiations, although it is becoming more common for car dealers to immediately mark down the MSRP on certain models, either to move inventory, or as a loss leader to get people into the showroom.

While MSRP is a legal necessity in the automotive industry, any retail product can have an MSRP attached to it. It is most commonly seen with higher priced goods though, so appliances and electronics are another area where MSRPs are common. Since the manufacturer sets the MSRP it is expected that it remains constant across all retail channels.

The MSRP is set based on all the costs incurred during the manufacture, distribution and sale of a product, and it also takes into account the normal and fair retail markup. The MSRP is set to keep the price attractive to consumers, while allowing all the parties involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of the product to make a profit.

It’s not unusual to see a retailer charging less than the MSRP for a product. These discounts are usually dependent on the wholesale cost of the item, but could also simply be so that the retailer can get rid of the item and make room for a new model or different product.

There are also cases where the MSRP is set unreasonably high, allowing retailers to advertise the product at a significant discount, making customers feel as if they are getting a far better deal than they really are.

A Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price would be best described as the amount which the supplier, in this context, a manufacturer recommends to the wholesaler for resale purposes. In other instances, the wholesaler is usually the retailer. An online marketplace such as AliExpress perfectly suits this scenario.

In the retail sector, for instance, you’ll find most products on the shelves with stickers showing the recommended price. The same prevails in e-commerce stores as well. Although not necessary, online retailers selling the same products use an average price that’s more or less, preset.

How the MSRP works?

So this is how the numbers work….

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is otherwise dubbed as the recommended retail price, as you may know. Others preferably stick to ‘sticker price’ or ‘list price’, whichever sounds familiar.

This strategy is most imminently used to neutralize the price variance of a commodity. Aside from the retail world, the MSRP is to a large extent, used in the automobile industry. Oftentimes, car dealerships use the MSRP strategy to put on view, the price of a vehicle, thus the so-called, sticker price.

The same is legally-backed in most jurisdictions. A car dealer is mandated to display the MSRP using the sticker technique.

A car dealer secures an invoice price that’s, as might be expected, lesser than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. So how contracting is the MSRP from the latter?

Let’s make a gripping break-down…

MSRP vs Invoice price

Spoiler alert!

We’re still sticking to the ‘automobile case study’, just so you’re aware.

The invoice price is usually the amount a dealer pays to the manufacturer in a car sale. An amount that’s transparently lower than the MSRP. To know the prospective profit markup, you need to calculate the difference between the invoice price and the MSRP of the car.

That way, it’s easier to adjust the pricing and allow room for bargains. It’s quite facile that customers want to save a few bucks before settling on a final offer. Most precisely, on a purchase that’s quite pricey; like a car in this context.

So technically, these suggested prices are usually set with a profit margin provision in mind. You need to hold onto the fact that the keyword here is ‘suggested’. That’s to imply that the dealer is under no restrictions whatsoever. They can decide to go up or slightly down when it comes to the selling price.

Assessing the MRSP

The final sale is therefore banked on by the entire chain, right from the top to bottom. Otherwise stated, the manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer must all make a recent profit. A fair share for each counterpart, in other words.

To enhance fair trade practices, it’s far-sighted to use standard prices while selling at the retail level. If there’s a mass clearance sale, retailers tend to sell products at slightly lower markups. The most common attempt being to lure more potential clients into buying.

On other occasions, regularly used commodities such as consumables, are sold at prices higher than the MSRP. To rationalize this happening, an item that’s high-selling will pretty certainly have a staggering demand.

That’s for sure.

On the surface of it, a manufacturer’s suggested retail price is largely set to optimize a fair field for all retailers. Conversely, an MSRP takes into account all the production costs that a manufacturer incurs.

Surprisingly, some retailers often end up listing products with price tags that are lower than the MSRP. This price variance is, for the most part, attributed to the number of products purchased from the manufacturer.

Let me clarify how.

If a retailer makes a purchase in bulk from the wholesaler, there’s a strong possibility of reselling the items at a lesser price. The truth of the matter is that most retailers use this option as a marketing hack.

So long as potential shoppers find your product to be such a considerable bargain, that’s a probable chance to make remarkable sales.

The Basics on Setting MSRPs

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price can be a complicated thing to understand. This price, which is set by the manufacturer of an item should remain the same across all retailer environments. This price aims to reflect all the costs that were incurred throughout the sales and manufacturing process for the manufacturer. There’s also an “average mark-up” price taken into account for retailers too. Prices are set to ensure that everyone, including the wholesaler, manufacturer, and retailer, can make a profit with each sale.

However, there are cases where retailers may choose to charge less than the MSRP. The price they charge generally depends on the wholesale cost. When a company buys something in bulk from a manufacturer, they can sometimes save money and get a better deal. When the retailer gets a better deal, they can offer a better price to customers.

The biggest problem with the MSRP for most companies is that it conflicts with the “competition theory” of commerce. Ultimately, the use of this basic price allows manufacturers to set the price of a product, often higher than they would usually, with the potential for an adverse effect on consumers and wallets.

What Isn’t Included in MSRP?

An MSRP gives you an idea of what a dealer would like to charge you for something, such as a vehicle. However, there are other pricing terms you’ll need to know too – particularly if you’re purchasing a new car.

The “invoice price” for instance, is the price the car charges for the seller of the vehicle. This usually includes any additional delivery and destination charges required for the vehicle. The destination charge refers to how much the dealer spent transporting a car from the manufacturer – and it’s commonly also known as a freight charge.

Registration fees are also common when purchasing a new vehicle. This is what you are charged to own a car in a specific place.

Notably, it’s worth seeing whether you can haggle if you are a customer dealing with an MSRP. Haggling with salespeople can be difficult, but consumers should keep in mind that the MSRP is only the price suggested by the manufacturer, which means it isn’t always set-in stone. Many numbers you see in the breakdown for costs of a vehicle are suitable for negotiation.

Dealers will typically budge on price to offer you a lower number depending on your needs. There are circumstances wherein the dealer will not negotiate, but this is rare.

What does MSRP mean for cars?

The MSRP on a new car is the price that manufacturers suggest that the sell their vehicles for. However, this won’t always be the price that the dealer uses. The suggested retail price for a new car is usually displayed on the sticker of a car, which earns it the name “sticker price”. However, this won’t always be the final price that you pay. Instead, the sticker price acts as a starting point for negotiations. Cars on the lot can usually come with haggling potential attached to them. However, there’s a possibility that you may end up paying more than the sticker price in some cases, particularly if additional options are installed, such as wheel locks or all-weather floor mats.

Before negotiating with a salesman, it’s worth doing your research on the car make or model you’re interested in. You can find the true market value of the car online and use this to help with your negotiations.

The true market value of a car usually falls somewhere between invoice and sticker price. Although it’s possible to pay above market value for vehicles with high demand, you can also negotiate a better price if you know your stuff.

Speak to any professional about the strategies you can use to get a car for a cheaper price, and they’ll tell you that it’s important to research when shopping for a vehicle. Keep in mind that the MSRP is not the base price of the car. This is particularly true when you’re buying a used car, as the automaker will often include add-ons in the MSRP like marketing fees.

To recoup as many rebates as possible on your car price, make sure that you read the fine print. Think about holdback costs, and demand when looking at car prices. Remember that different trim levels will have different impacts on car prices, and check the Edmunds or Monroney information online for more insight into whether you’re getting a fair price.

Knowing the amount the dealer paid before the market adjustment on your invoice will give you starting point for your negotiations. Don’t forget that if you’re paying on a monthly payment schedule or offering a trade in, the charges may also be different to the window sticker again. Doing your research on best price options before approaching a dealer will give you more power to haggle.

The price set by the car manufacturer and the dealer cost of the cart often have some significant differences between them. Know how much wiggle room you have before you start haggling. 

Quick tips:

  • Check the official price tag: You can usually find a vehicle’s MSRP on a sticker placed on the side window of the vehicle when car buying. This is likely the price you will see in newspaper and TV ads. This is the starting price for your negotiations.
  • Remember Invoice price: This refers to the amount your dealer pays to the manufacturer of the vehicle. Dealerships can sometimes sell the vehicle for more than the price they pay on the invoice to make a profit.
  • Incentives: Remember that your dealer can often offer you a price that’s lower than the MSRP, particularly if they paid a lot less on the invoice price. Negotiating can be a good way to get a good deal.

Key pointers that influence the MSRP

Market share stabilization

From a supplier’s perspective, it makes more sense to engage directly with the entire chain in the market. And by that, I mean all stakeholders with more or less, common interests. The likes of brokers, retailers, and wholesalers, rightfully fall under this bracket.

To have a fortified market share take its course, the distribution channel needs to even out the ease of doing business. This creates a baseline formula to carve a modest profit markup for each role player in the chain.

While craving for a considerable portion in terms of realizing the projected sales, the market share metric allows a seller to conserve the profitability ratio. In a bid to refine such an objective, it enhances the pricing structure quite impeccably.

Literary, the competition is stiff. I presume that you can’t agree any further.

Speaking of which, the MSRP comes in to amend all the pricing decisions and options that every retailer, for instance, has. Top-scoring competitors often have a first-rate edge over retailers working on a lagging budget. Sadly, that’s a fact of the matter in most instances.

Regardless of how dampening such a situation can be for SMB retailers, they can still bank on an unswerving customer relationship. Such a course of action, is, of course, a concurring strategy to maintain a well-balanced market share.

So to put it in plain context, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, looks closely at the interests of the wholesalers and retailers alike. A stable market share is an easygoing factor that amicably let’s all the competitors have sufficiently good penetration in an industry.

In a situation where a competitor factors in the aspect of value addition on a product, it’s justifiable to set the price tag slightly above the MSRP.

Retail value chain

There are a couple of cost implications in the retail value chain. But first things first, it’s shrewd to unravel what this business-like jargon is all about.

To all intents and purposes, the value chain is a salient step that identifies all the cardinal steps happening behind closed doors before a product gets to the customer. It sort of the logistics structure and the expenses incurred, pretty concisely.

While this may be true, manufacturers, in retrospect, bear some pertinent costs. They need to pay for labor expenses, raw materials and set a provision for replacing the worn-out machinery. This particularly affects the suggested retail price.

The next significant step is to handle the inventory part to fulfill the retail value chain. From the manufacturer's end, there’s such a dire need to widen the production levels. As soon as the products are gratifyingly manufactured, they need to be stored in a safe and accessible warehouse.

That equally costs money.

Alongside this, the inventory needs to be tracked before the distribution process begins. Retailers, at the same time, have to feed the demand without any hang fire. To keep an eye on the manufacturer-distributor- retailer connection, an insightful MSRP should integrate all the costs that each market player bears.

The retail value chain is a binding link that has a guiding proposition on what the end retailer should anticipate in terms of revenue. To put it briefly, the manufacturer has to give thought to how a product reaches the retail shelves.

Customers’ bargaining power

So how brawny is the bargaining power for buyers like?

Well, it gives consumers a leading-edge that sways the potential profit margins for a particular industry. This tends to adjust a product’s pricing and quality.

But there’s always a catch.

It just doesn’t happen higgledy-piggledy.

There are matching factors that allow the customers’ bargaining power to swing into action in any industry. These conditions, unmistakably, affect the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

The ‘buyers-suppliers’ ratio, for instance, is one intense pointer any manufacturer should closely be looking at. This metric is at the forefront of determining the suggested price.

Let me give a quick and simple rationale for this.

If the number of buyers is relatively smaller than that of suppliers, the buyers’ bargaining power will, far and away, be sky-scraping.

The second definitive factor is the tie-up between a buyer and a supplier. If the relationship isn’t so constructive, then a buyer might look at the other side. One gravitating motive for that is if more suppliers are selling the same products.

What’s more revealing, is the number of products a buyer intends to purchase. If they buy in bulk, then they’re highly likely going to have an edge. The bargaining power, in this case, stands tall.

On the contrary, if the number of suppliers is limited, the bargaining power for buyers conversely seems to be lower. The dynamics, in the long run, happen to lay hold of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price(MSRP) in a perceptive manner.

All things considered, the bargaining power is distinct among various industries. It might be low, medium or even high.

Product’s demand status

Most industries use this analysis to unwind if the demand from customers is sustainable and well functioning.

So how well does the MSRP and such a forecast correlate? You might ask.

To make sensible prospects, a manufacturer needs to evaluate the customer base demographics. Where do they come from? How many are they, figuratively? Such are some of the pressing matters that concern suppliers the most.

For that to happen swiftly, a manufacturer needs to bank on data-driven insights to understand the demand density of a product.

Most manufacturers do this by tracking down the annual sales. In so doing, it’s a whole lot easier to fill a market gap, yet at the same time, determine the high-selling products.

In close connection to that, a suggested retail price comes in handy to allow competitors to have a sleek pricing guide.

A retailer can use the demand analysis to foretell the growth potential of a niche product. The MSRP, in this case, might go down if a product gets overwhelmingly saturated. If a product is, however, at the ‘baby steps’ stage, which technically equates to fewer competitors, a retailer has an engaging option to soar the profit markups.

To catch the light, the retailer needs to run a clear-cut product demand analysis. The best part is that a tool such as Google Analytics allows its users to work with the most suitable and expedient data.

Put differently, suppliers can work with befitting metrics to have a glimpse of where the substantial and wide-reaching traffic comes from. That influences the pricing options; a factor that most end retailers overlook quite often.

Marketing objectives

This factor has some sort of symbiotic relationship with a market's demand analysis. The two are seemingly intertwined. Most of all, it also has a rebound effect on the pricing strategy which a retailer chooses.

Your marketing objectives are crucial variables that affect your pricing decisions. If you need to charge a higher price than your competitors, you might need to spend a little more on campaigns. In exchange for better profit margins, the marketing objectives ought to leave nothing to the imagination.

In other words, a manufacturer should thoughtfully contemplate on how the entire chain secures a market share. The best possible way is to sort of create brand awareness via advertising. Be it Facebook or Google ads; each marketing channel needs a hands-on budget. The manufacturer will, therefore, have to spread these costs to the suggested retail price.

As an alternative, the manufacturer can set lower prices to lure more potential customers into buying. This strategy works flawlessly by giving a product quite a wide-reaching demand traffic. However, the profit margins might not be pleasing.

In numerous instances, companies use low prices to beat the staggering competition. On the flip side, the product quality can only be slightly above the bare bone. A product whose quality is up to the mark attracts a higher price tag.

A fruitful market penetration strategy creates remarkable customer loyalty. And not only that. It’s the most high-yielding way of brand building. To an ordinary retailer, the ultimate goal is to maximize the ROI.

On the other hand, a manufacturer sets the suggested retail price depending on how cost-effective the marketing options are. Above all, the key performance indicator for a manufacturer and the retailer is to understand the most salient target audience in the market.

Production expenses

There’s no doubt that the cost of production affects the final price of a commodity. The costs incurred by a manufacturer often include; labor expenses, sourcing the raw materials, usual overheads, and warehousing.

It’s also forehanded for a manufacturer to treat taxes and shipping as part of the production costs. Such expenses are regarded so crucial to the ultimate revenue a supplier intends to generate.

Most imminently, they act as a guiding principle to what the MSRP should be. While doing the math, it’s cardinal to draw a line between the production costs and manufacturing expenses. Taking into account the daily operations, production costs are those which reflect the key ingredients to making a finished product.

That aside, manufacturers can’t overlook how fixed and variable expenses influence the retail price. After all, the entire revenue an establishment generates, must, by all means, transcend over all the imminent expenses.

To remain competitive in the market, a suggested retail price allows all sellers dealing with a particular niche product to gain a firm ground when it comes to setting pliable profit margins.

For this to come into being, a manufacturer needs to incorporate both direct and indirect costs into the ultimate MSRP. The production cost per unit, is ordinarily, a leading factor that is thoughtful enough to give a supplier the most insightful expectation as to when they can break-even.

Usually, one has to divide the production expenses by the total number of sales to get the total cost of production per unit. This is always a crunch moment for most manufacturers while weighing in all the applicable costs.

For a much more constructive MSRP, the expenses need to be lower than the selling price. If the opposite happens, that might compel the manufacturer to reduce the operational costs.

Market competition

The bare-bene fact here is that competition tends to be an aspect that affects the quality, quantity, and prices of commodities in equal measure.

After intently analyzing what the consumers need, the manufacturer goes back to the drawing table and crafts a competitive pricing technique, for lack of a better phrase.

Practically, it’s reasonably justifiable that goods made out of sub-standard quality might fetch lower prices in the market. Quite extensively, the competitive pricing strategy allows sellers to set prices slightly lower, at par with the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or even overprice the commodities.

While the government might also control the pricing of goods, the level of competition is a conscious factor to look at. For a manufacturer to ask for a premium price which is way beyond what the close competitors are charging, there is a dire need to make a high-end product that gives consumers a notable value. One which is incomparable, for that matter.

To make this a high-yielding process, it’s indisputable that customers need to see how distinct the product appears from other manufacturers. In the tech industry, for instance, Apple would serve as a picture-perfect case in point.

Not only does the company suggest skyrocketed retail prices on it’s newly released products but it also puts in cutting-edge technology to set itself a couple of strides apart from its rivals. It’s a move that often works for most blue-chip companies.

It’s also vital for a manufacturer to look at all options that determine the price-setting based on what most of the dominating competitors are asking for.

Final takeaway on the MSRP

Should I follow the MSRP?

You might be puzzled.

The MSRP, also commonly referred to as the list price, steps up to put forward, standard pricing projections in the market. From the manufacturer's perspective, the chain of events that’s tagged along to make a finished and commercially viable product, can't go unnoticed.

Marketing and production costs are some of the key illustrations that come in to adjust the suggested retail price. Depending on the kind of target audience, it’s fair to say that a retailer may opt to charge less or higher than the MSRP.

Certainly, the price elasticity of demand also plays an essential role for all counterparts in a product’s market. In a nutshell, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is meant to counterbalance the disproportionate pricing formula that some of the retailers tend to adopt.

You should think of it as a tip that helps you pick the right pricing strategy. To balance the equation, the MSRP irons out the retail imbalances and instead, allows sellers to make a decent amount of profit per sale.

Above all, the perk here is that it saves you tons of time you’d have wasted in figuring out the most befitting price for your items.

Rebekah Carter

Rebekah Carter is an experienced content creator, news reporter, and blogger specializing in marketing, business development, and technology. Her expertise covers everything from artificial intelligence to email marketing software and extended reality devices. When she’s not writing, Rebekah spends most of her time reading, exploring the great outdoors, and gaming.

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