For premium pricing, what you don’t do matters more

Sheepdogs concert announcement

By all accounts, competing solely on price is a horrible strategy, but it’s also the easiest.  Still, even if you aspire to being a luxury brand with higher than average margins, there seems to be a puzzle there, especially if you seem to be doing all the same things that your competitor is doing.

Here’s an example from the retail world: I shot the above photo on Dec 13 outside The Source in the Toronto Eaton Centre after I attended the free Sheepdogs concert.  Well… I didn’t really attend the concert, though I was at the site at the appointed time, “today” as the sign advertised.

The concert was a week ago.  The sign’s been up for a week now, telling countless people to go to an event that’s over.  Someone at that location had to take that sign and set it up outside the store’s doors every morning, apparently either oblivious or apathetic to the fact that it refers to a specific event on a specific day (then again, it’s always “today” so who knows…)

I asked a staffer about it (it wouldn’t be fair to mention his name, since this had to have been a solid team effort) and he said they had the sign up “for advertising” (the bottom of the banner advertised the launch of the new Nexus phone, also “today”.)

He may have seen my point, and the sign may have been removed after I left; I don’t know and I don’t care, really.  At that moment, The Source lost its status in my mind as trusted advisor, and I’m not silly enough to say I’ll never shop there, but the only circumstance where I see it happening is if they have the lowest price.  They’ve lost any ability to command  premium pricing from me, because they lack the most basic of attention to detail.

I’d venture to say that you wouldn’t see this kind of thing in, say, an Apple store.  If you did, it’d be a blip, and it’d feel really weird, like it clearly shouldn’t have happened.  I had no trouble believing that it happened (even for a week) at The Source.  It’s nothing that they did; it’s all about what they didn’t do.

Oh, and since Bell owns The Source, and I want to be an equal opportunity pointer-outer, here’s a shot from a nearby Black’s, which is owned by rival telecom company Telus:

camera incongruence

The green camera isn’t blue, and neither is the (what is that? rust?) coloured one, though the product tags say they are.  It’s a little thing, and people are willing to compromise and overlook it on a conscious level, but I believe that the incongruence hits the subconscious just the same, and again, there’s no reason to shop for anything other than price in these cases either.





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