As I’m sure many of you have noticed, there are certain products that pretty much every online store sells at the exact same price. Despite what some may think, we do not all get together and conspire on prices. Most manufacturers in the billiards industry have what are commonly referred to as Minimum Advertised Pricing policies or MAP for short.
In essence, manufacturers tell retailers that they can only advertise certain products at specific minimum prices. For example, if you look at the Predator IKON series, you’ll notice that every IKON is priced at 15% off MSRP, down to the penny.
At the time of this writing, we have the IKON 2 priced at $551.65, which is exactly 15% off the MSRP of $649.00. If you shop around, you’ll likely find that every authorized dealer has the same pool cue priced no lower than $551.65 as well (the key word here is authorized, as I’m sure there are some unauthorized, unscrupulous dealers that violate MAP).
Another example of this is with Aramith products. Recently, Aramith instituted a 20% MAP policy, so all Aramith pool balls are now priced at 20% off down to the penny.
As retailers, we are required to follow these policies as a condition of selling a manufacturer’s products. If we habitually advertise Aramith products under MAP, we will be cut off and won’t be able to carry those products any more.
The concept of MAP is not exclusive to the billiards industry. Almost every industry has manufacturers that enforce MAP policies. When I worked in the toy business, Disney, Mattel and pretty much every other manufacturer I worked with had MAP policies in place. Same went for the video game business when I was doing that. We would get a list of prices from companies like Activision and Electronic Arts telling us what our minimum advertised prices would be.
This is a policy that isn’t always popular with retailers and customers, as it limits the amount a product can be discounted. That being said, it is a standard part of retail and is beyond our control. Having worked on both sides (as I worked for a supplement manufacturer in a previous life), I personally understand all the pros and cons of this sort of program. I personally don’t have any issues with it, but can understand why others might.
So now you know why pool cues are always marked at 20% off. And as GI Joe said, knowing is half the battle.