Does Anyone [Need to] Pay Full Price Anymore?


New year, new sales. That’s what retailers were hoping for. After what should’ve been the most profitable season of the year, consumers are now fully –  and mindfully – controlling how, what and why they purchase. The power has shifted to the people.

Some time ago, retailers were in charge; setting their prices and creating demand for their products with simple marketing tools. If consumers didn’t want to buy from you, it was on them. Now the price tag has evolved from representing legitimate cost, to being merely seen as a suggestion. I say suggestion, because it’s never been easier to bypass full price. As of this year, these are the easiest, most common ways to save, just ask Quora:

  • Price Match
  • Email/Mobile coupon or offer
  • Order online out of state to avoid taxes
  • Group buys (Groupon, Living Social, specialty groups or blogs)
  • Wait for major holiday sale or until it gets to TJ Maxx
  • Coupon code sites and/or forums (Retail Me Not, Fat Wallet)
  • People sharing codes or coupons online

I dare ask if all these tools have begun to condition consumers to accept nothing but less than full price. Bargain hunting shoppers went from niche to norm, and it would seem that more and more people are programmed to ‘need’ a discount to justify their purchase.

So what’s the alternative? Perhaps creating a better concept of worth. Some have done it through added value – limited edition releases, personalization, bonus features, gifts with purchase, etc. But only a few, have done it through their brand, standing for something bigger, better; creating a loyalist base that is willing and even glad to pay full price. Think Sephora, Apple and Trader Joe’s. They’ve understood what drives value in the minds of their customers – whether is experimentation, innovation or transparency – and make a habit of keeping up with developing behavior, changing consumer needs and future demands.

As this new breed of savvy consumers grows, and learns ways to avoid the full price of your product or service, it’s important to ask ourselves… how valuable is my brand in people’s minds?

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