polarization

I got a real kick this summer over reaction to the CN Tower’s latest attraction, EdgeWalk, where people get to walk around the outside of the tower, 1,168 feet up.  It’s priced at $175, positioning it as something lots of Toronto residents (the blog and YouTube commenters, anyway,) felt was a ridiculous price.  Me? I thought they should have started at $350.  Maybe $500 with some perks.

Guess what? The call centre was overwhelmed on opening day.

And it’s possible that there weren’t enough reps available to take orders because someone listened to the people complaining, but my point today is this:

It’s important to listen to your customers, but it’s vital to know who your customers are.

I’m going to guess that the people who were complaining about the pricing haven’t been to the top of the CN Tower, on the inside, since they were kids and their parents footed the bill (admission packages range from $23 to $65.) But even if they go every week, so what if they think it’s too much?  They live here.  There are 2 million people going up those elevators every year, which means lots of tourists looking to make Bob from accounting back home jealous with a killer vacation pic. And then there’s the corporate team building stuff where people don’t have to pay, they just have to be insane enough to go do it.

If you think $175 is too expensive, that’s fine. There are only 10,000 tickets each year (it’s real scarcity, since they can only fit a certain number of tours through the schedule safely) so they just need .5% of their customer base to take the deal for a sell out.

Sometimes it’s good to polarize the buyers and the non-buyers really strongly, and I think it’s a great tactic for positioning an attraction like this.  After all, people who choose to try something like this aren’t like normal people.  They’re getting a story to tell, one that’s going to set them apart from the rest of the people at the office.  That’s worth something.

Oh, and I’m not going to do EdgeWalk, by the way, even though I think it’s a bargain. I have no problem telling you it’s not because I’m cheap; I’m just terrified.

Update: Still don’t think it’s worth it? Take a look at Stacie’s blog post of the experience and try to put a price tag on those photos and the stories they tell, both now and in the years to come.