Our first meetup in San Francisco is coming on Jan 23, 2020. Learn more.

A biotech company has launched a cell-based blood that reduces dependence on donation. How much would you price this blood ?
How would you proceed ?
0 votes
How would you proceed ?
in Estimation by (13 points) | 302 views

2 Answers

+1 vote

Few assumptions to begin with:

1. Is this new technology or one more entrant into an existing market?

Assumption: New Technology. If no, then you have to take into consideration competitor pricing as well as market growth rate to evaluate whether you would do cost+/value-added pricing in an existing market or focus on growing areas of the market where the competition isn't fully entrenched, and same question here as to whether we go after cost+/value-added pricing in that new market.

2. Is the cost of manufacturing blood on a unit scale much less than the cost of procuring it via donation?

Assumption: Yes cost is much less if manufactured at scale.

3. What is the value of scale or minimum threshold?

Assumption: 100,000 units of blood /year. 

4. Has it been verified that the market size is greater than minimum threshold?

Assumption: Yes. If No, then this is the first requred step. 

5. Is the unit cost of manufacturing fixed based on min threshold?

Assumption: Yes. What this means is that even if the unit cost of manufacturing reduces if the total bottles produced are much higher than the threshold, we will still consider the unit cost based on the threshold value. E.g. if unit cost is 50$ based on 100K threshold of manufactured bottles of blood and if total number of bottles of blood produced is say 1M, we wont reduce unit cost to be 5$ for pricing evalution. We will still hold the unit cost to be 50$.

6. What is that unit cost?

Assumption: 250$. The simplication here is that we have accounted for the cost of R&D, manufacturing, operations, sales, etc. within the 100K threshold cost and divided it by 100K.

7. What is our pricing strategy: Cost+, Value added? Another commentator had a much more refined way of articulating the pricing strategies into 6 different types. In that parlance I am thinking Economy pricing or Premium pricing?

Assumption: Economy pricing / Cost+ pricing. If its valued added pricing, one has to go into perceived value from a customer standpoint.

8. If cost+ what is the profit margin?

Assumption: 100%

9. Is cost of manufacturing different based on blood type? E.g. is AB type more expensive to manufacture vs B type?

Assumption: No

Answer 1: Based on the assumptions above, one way to caluclate the price of this blood on a per unit basis would be: 250$ + 100% margin = 500$ / liter of bottle.

Lets make this a bit more hairy.

For Assumption #1 above lets say its not a new technology. Assuming that is the case you have to consider Value added pricing since Cost+ pricing will only take you down a rabbit hole of downward pricing to beat competitor pricing, which is a losing proposition if you dont have deep pockets and more so it will dilute your brand given the 'cheap' pricing perception for something that is supposed to be a life-saving product. Plus for something that is a lifesaving option, customers are more likely to look at how much better it is at saving the patient's life vs the cost. 

Now for value added pricing, you do need to do the market size analysis. Why? Because if after any reasonable assumptions of being able to capture a certain market size, if that size is much less than 'minimum scale' assumption question #3 above, you probably are going to have a tough time competing and staying in the business using value added pricing, if your competition's pricing is lower than yours.

So lets do some market size analysis:

10. What markets is this product for?

Assumption: U.S. only.

11. What is unit size of the product when sold individually?

Assumption: 1 liter bottle

12. How many patients need blood in the U.S. on an annual basis?

12.1. Subquestion: What percentage of the population needs hospitalization?

Assumption: 1%

12.2 Subquestion: What percentage of those that are hospitalized need blood?

Assumption: 10%

12.3 Subquestion: What is the average length of stay of a patient in the hospital?

Assumption: 1 week.

12.4 Subquestion: What is the population of U.S.?

Assumption: 300M

12.5 Subquestion: How many weeks in a year?

Assumption: 50. Try to work with easy to use numbers :).

Answer to question 12 based on the subquestions: 300M x 0.01 x 0.1 x 50 = 15M patients annually. 

13. What is the average # of units of blood needed on a per patient basis?

Assumption: 2 liters. One curveball that the interviewer may throw at you at this point is why use average and not median. Answer is: average and median are very close to the same number for a large sample size. For a really small sample size it may make sense to use median. In this case since we are dealing with millions in sample size, average would work just fine.

Based on the market size calculation above, the total market size would be 15M x 2 = 30M liters of blood annually.

14. What % of the existing market do we think we can capture?

Assumption: 5%

15. What is the growth rate of this market?

Assumption 3%

Based on these assumptions, the market size that you would get to capture on an annual basis would be: (30M + 30M x 0.03) x 0.05 = 1.545M liters of blood. For the current set of assumptions, this number is higher than our threshold amount so lets move forward with value added pricing.

16. How many competitors exist in the market?

Assumption: 1

17. What are the key features that customers look at to evaluate the options: yours vs competitor's product?


a. Price. Weightage/Importance: 25%

b. Rejection rate by patient's body. Weightage/Importance: 75%

c. % of cases where complications occur within 1 week of blood transfusion. Weightage/Importance: 75%

d. Shelf life of the product. Weightage/Importance: 75%

e. Ease of availability. Weightage/Importance: 90%

Based on the features above, one can then run conjoint analysis on the feature set to derive a set of combinations that a customer may go for, which may look something like this (going into the details of conjoint analysis and how to derive a final $ price would be far beyond the time and scope of the interview ihmo) : 

 Your productcompetitor
Available within24 hours3 days
Expiry period1 month1 week
Acceptance Rate99%90%
Post transfusion complications<0.01%<5%
Price per unit1200$1000$

This could be one combination to test with against focus groups. You may want to test with a few other combinations to find one that is better to go to market with. 

See less
by (22 points)
0 votes

Here's my approach to solve this question -There are 6 kinds of pricing strategies that are mostly used by businesses -Premium pricing - For product which has an actual/perceived value over its competitors. Th…See more

by (14 points)
Your name to display (optional):
Privacy: Your email address will only be used for sending these notifications.
To avoid this verification in future, please log in or register.
Your name to display (optional):
Privacy: Your email address will only be used for sending these notifications.
To avoid this verification in future, please log in or register.