A Guide to the Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter, Survey Template

Van Westendorp Analysis Explained

Definition: Van Westendorp analysis is a survey-based research technique used to identify a range of acceptable product prices. The Van Westendorp pricing model asks respondents to evaluate four specific price points. These price point questions are – 1) too expensive and would not buy 2) expensive but would consider 3) bargain price 4) too cheap and would question the quality. When the results are tallied, price curves can be created, and a range of acceptable product prices can be determined.

Basic Concept: Van Westendorp goes beyond a standard survey question. It forces respondents to enter specific data points, helping to define a range of acceptable product prices.

Interactive Van Westendorp Example Question

If we released a new version of the SurveyKing app with updated statistical features, how would you evaluate the following price points on a monthly basis?

Slide from left to right

*Limiting the back slide is by design. Learn more

When to Use the Van Westendorp Pricing Model

The Van Westendorp pricing model is best used when you want to identify an acceptable range of prices for a product. A software company could use the above sample question to determine the retail price for a new product. If the price is too high, it will limit the number of consumers willing to purchase. If the price is too low, consumers may feel the product lacks quality and would not buy it. The company needs to find the ideal price point that is not too expensive nor too cheap, which will help maximize revenue.

If the software company used a simple input box question to ask for an excellent price, respondents would likely enter in a low dollar figure, limiting the revenue potential. Even if the company used four separate input box questions, the survey would still be prone to user error. For example, a respondent could enter in $20 for "too expensive" but incorrectly enter in $25 for "expensive but would consider." Van Westendorp solves this problem by using a single question that validates each level of input.

Van Westendorp is often part of a bigger research project to find optimal product concepts. A preliminary survey for a conjoint study, might use van Westendorp to find a range of acceptable prices and then use this range in the conjoint study to determine optimal product features and price.

Van Westendorp Limitations

The "optimal" and "indifference" price points are sometimes misinterpreted. These price points don't consider product costs or margins or the full revenue potential of a product. These points, along with the range of acceptable prices, should be used as more of a guide, along with other internal information in your company, on setting the final retail price of a product.

How to Create a Van Westendorp Survey

To create a Van Westendorp survey, create a survey and add the Van Westendorp pricing model question where you want. You can edit the wording of the four price inputs, edit the minimum and maximum price range, and the scale units of the slider.

By default, the range of prices will go from expensive to cheap. You can switch this order and go from cheap to expensive. Additionally, you can also require the question to be completed. Respondents can not proceed to the next page until the Van Westendorp question is complete, meaning all four sliders have been set with values.

Reliable Price Data: Sliders ensure each respondent will submit valid data.

To preserve data integrity, the values are limited when sliding backward. The lowest value for "too cheap" is the step value ($5 in the above example). Each additional price point should be one step higher. Without limiting the backwards sliding, users could enter $10 for too expensive and $20 for too cheap, leading to invalid data.

Other platforms use a simple input box. Those users need to click "submit", and then the system tells them to enter a new price. This produces confusion for respondents and is time consuming. The slide method with limits/floors is the most user-friendly option. (keep in mind most survey takers are not statistical or data experts)

We recommend collecting at least fifty (50) responses for a Van Westendorp study to obtain meaningful results. If you wanted to segment your data, for example, by gender, you would want to collect at least fifty (50) responses for both males and females.

Understanding the Van Westendorp Price Curves

The output of Van Westendorp involves plotting a curve with cumulative responses for each price point. These curves help you define the following four price points. Below is the definition of each point. The next section has sample survey data and will go more into how to calculate the curves. The sample results section uses these points to create the graphed curves.

Point of marginal expensiveness

This is where the "too expensive" and "bargain" curves intersect. Here, many people think the product is too expensive, but these customers are offset by a similar percentage of people who consider the product a bargain. Anything greater than this price point will have a limited number of buyers; every unit you increase the price past this, you will lose customers.

Point of marginal cheapness

This is where the "too cheap" and "expensive would consider" curves intersect. Here, many people think the product is too cheap, but the percentage is offset by a similar amount of people who consider the product too expensive but would consider. Anything lower than this price point will have a limited number of buyers; every unit you decrease the price past this, you will lose customers.

Optimal price point

This is where the "too expensive" and "too cheap" curves intersect. Only a small number of customers will not purchase the product from being too expensive or too cheap. This price point is referred to as optimal only because of the low probability of customers rejecting the price. It does not mean optimum in the sense of maximizing revenue. Sometimes this price point is referred to as the "Market Entry" or "Penetration Price."

Some data sets will never have an optimal price point. A car, for example, might have a very low floor ($1,000 range) and a very high ceiling ($60,000). In this scenario, the "too cheap" and "too expensive" curves will never intersect. The optimal price point should be more or less of a guide and not the sole focus of a pricing study.

Indifference price point

This is where the "expensive but would consider," and "bargain" curves intersect. This point represents the greatest percentage of people who consider the price to be too expensive and not too cheap; this percentage of respondents is indifferent to this price. This point can generally be thought of as "Optimal" in the sense of maximizing revenue that will attract the greatest number of customers.

The acceptable range of prices

This range begins at the point of marginal cheapness (PMC) and ends at marginal expensiveness (PME). Anything outside of these ranges will result in fewer people buying because the product is too cheap or too expensive.

Analyzing the Results of a Van Westendorp Survey

Plotting and Displaying the Curves

The results of a Van Westendorp survey start by plotting curves with cumulative responses for each price point. The expensive price points go from low to high, and the cheap/bargain price points go from high to low. The x-axis will contain all possible price values, and the y-axis will have the cumulative response percentage. To make things easier to understand and show the math, we created an Excel file with all of the percentages calculated with formulas.

Below is a chart with all four curves to plotted and the optimal price point and Indifference price point plotted.

Average Prices

The results will also include a table showing the average price for each point respondents evaluated in each report. The default report will also display the range of acceptable prices. Both the optimal price point and indifference price point are shown here. These data points will guide your pricing decisions.

Evaluation Price Average
Too Expensive 41.5
Expensive; would consider 29.75
Bargain 18.75
Too cheap; would question quality 9.75
Analysis Point Value
Point of marginal cheapness (PMC) 18.33
Point of marginal expensiveness (PME) 28.13
Optimal price point (OPP) 25.00
Indifference price point (IPP) 23.33
Acceptable price range 18.33 to 28.13

Analysis By Segments

Certain projects might require you to segment results, such as by gender. To do this, include a question that asks for gender (ideally before the Van Westendorp question). In the reporting section of the survey, you can create a cross-tabulation report for both males and females. For each segment, you will see a price curve graph along with the data tables. Here is an example that has been segmented by male and female.

The History of Van Westendorp

Van Westendorp analysis gets its name from its creator, Dutch economist Peter Van Westendorp in 1976. The goal of the research technique was to understand consumer perceptions of the value. Peter believed consumers could envision a pricing landscape based on the product described and by relating it to similar products. The full technical name of Van Westendorp analysis is usually referred to as the "Van Westendorp price sensitivity meter."