I’m confused.

It seems a lot of the old rules about pricing and value have been thrown out in this distressed economy.

Everything is on sale, and while my pocket book thinks this is great… part of me is severely troubled by this Topsy Turvy world of “recession pricing”.

A friend of mine recently walked into a department store in Soho and was discreetly informed by the sales girl that there was a 75% off unadvertised private sale.

That’s great. But she couldn’t help thinking what if she had been one of the customers that didn’t get the secret message?

What was the real value of the clothes? It seemed very arbitrary.

I’m glad to be saving money. But if it’s so easy to be making such dramatic cuts, can we ever expect people to ever pay “regular economy” prices again?

In contrast, I was out walking last weekend in Marin County trying to get some steps on my pedometer before breakfast. I walked by a mall parking lot and saw a car for sale with this sign in the window” “$9,000. No Haggling”.

I actually found this re-assuring and refreshing.

Now I have no idea of the value of that particular car.

But I got a sense that the owner did. And that was the price they were prepared to accept.

It’s not a new approach, Saturn created it’s company on “fair price, no haggling”.

But now when drastic price cuts are calling into question the value of all things, I felt comforted that someone out there was taking a firm approach and sticking to their guns.

Will that car sell? I don’t know.

But it might get more than a second look from people like me who are growing weary of “the price is right” guessing game we seem to be all playing.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

Are you having trouble determining the value of things?

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Julie is the Founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build stronger, more profitable brands.


  1. I’ve wondered the same thing about outlet mall culture of the US. I’ve been into Nike and Banana Republic and Fossil outlets, and seen items that are still hanging on the racks in the “real” stores, and – bizarrely – items that were specially made for the outlet.

    I truly believe that this de-values the brand, and creates an expectation of ever-present sales. However, it’s been an on-going issue that I blame on the Gap. With their recurrent flips and mark-down cycles, why buy at full price, when you know the item will be on sale in a week or two?

  2. Great comments. The outlets used to be last year’s styles. But if they are this year’s then what’s the point. I also agree about the GAP. I can’t remember the last time I bought something full price there. I am trained to go directly to the circular sales rack. I like the way they do it at Kohl’s. The advertise good prices, but at the last minute at the register (when I’ve already committed to buy) they take more off. It feels like a reward, not a compromise.

  3. I agree that it’s refreshing when brands stick to their gun when it comes to everything -price, product, experience, etc…, I just like a brand to know and be confident in who they are.

    In this economy I am finding that because I can no longer rely on “price” to help me determine the value of products, I am being forced to ask myself “what is this worth to me?” and am consequently buying less “stuff” than I did before, choosing to spend money on things that are a priority to me… In my new recessionista world, “organic free-range chicken, yes – $75 t-shirt from Barneys, no.”

    I think the recession forces people to prioritize, which challenges brands to continue to build strong emotional relationships with consumers. If you’re not on a consumers “priority” list, it doesn’t matter if you’re on sale…

  4. I think you’re right. We’re letting fewer brands in. So it’s more important than ever for brands to feel authentic. Thanks for sharing.
    ps do you think they make organic free range chocolate? 🙂

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