loss leader

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loss leader (plural loss leaders)

  1. (marketing) An item that is sold at or below cost in an effort to stimulate other profitable sales.
    • 1966, L. K. Skeoch, “Canada”, in B[asil] S. Yamey, editor, Resale Price Maintenance, 3rd edition, Chicago, Ill.: Aldine Publishers, →OCLC; republished as Resale Price Maintenance: A Comparative American–European Perspective, 1st paperback edition, Piscataway, N.J.: AldineTransaction, Transaction Publishers, 2008, →ISBN, page 26:
      Sugar was a strategic product in the scheme; in part, because it was the chief source of ‘disturbance’ in the wholesale and retail trades owing to its use as what would now be called a ‘loss leader’, and, in part, because on the supply side the industry was dominated by one refiner behind a substantial tariff wall, thereby facilitating ‘stabilised’ pricing.
    • 2010, Erik Assadourian, “The Rise and Fall of Consumer Cultures”, in Linda Starke, Lisa Mastny, editors, State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability: A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress toward a Sustainable Society, New York, N.Y., London: W. W. Norton & Company, →ISBN, page 11, column 1:
      Meanwhile, entrepreneurs were quick to capitalize on these shifts to stimulate purchase of their new wares, using new types of advertising, endorsements by prominent people, creation of shop displays, "loss leaders" (selling a popular item at a loss as a way to pull customers into a store), creative financial options, even consumer research and the stoking of new fads.
    • 2014 February 22, Karen Stabiner, “Loss leaders on the half shell”, in The New York Times[1], archived from the original on 9 May 2017:
      Krystof Zizka, a co-owner of the restaurant, says he doesn't make a penny on the oysters, though they are one of the reasons his three-year-old restaurant is so successful. The cheap late-afternoon oyster is to a restaurant what a liter bottle of Coca-Cola is to a supermarket: the loss leader that gets customers in the door, at which point they buy something else at full price.
    • 2022 November 21, Ron Amadeo, “Amazon Alexa is a “colossal failure,” on pace to lose $10 billion this year”, in Ars Technica[2]:
      Siri can at least be a loss leader for iPhone sales, but Apple is also hunting around for more continual revenue from ads.


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