How to Raise Your Prom Prices Without Annoying Customers
Some shops are frustrated that their competitors can sell prom items at $60 when they can’t get anyone to spend more than $15. Is there a way to start moving your prom pricing up without alienating the customers you already have?
To a large extent, price expectations are set by past experience. If you sold someone a Valentine’s Day item for $60 last year, he’ll balk if you try to sell him the same thing this year for $100.
One thing that works in your favour with prom shoppers is that they have a relatively short lifespan. A husband might buy flowers for his wife every year for decades, each time with the expectation of paying something close to what he spent the year before, while most people only go to prom once or twice. This means that every prom season you are dealing with a large percentage of first-time buyers who have less specific price expectations.
A relatively safe way to increase your prom sales numbers is by simply making more expensive options available alongside what you’ve previously offered. People expecting to pay old prices won’t feel ripped off or left out, while everyone will have the option to spend more money by buying one of your flashier, upscale designs.
And some will. We get so hung up on the customers who are focussed on spending less that we ignore those willing to spend more. Consider gasoline. We all resent paying for it, but a lot of us still happily choose to pay more by buying premium grade. In the U.S., motorists spend in excess of $2 billion on premium fuel for vehicles that don’t require it.
Why? Because adjectives like “premium” or “ultra” imply prestige and, frankly, because it costs more. Price is the most credible indicator of quality, so when customers see higher prices, they assume it really must be better. Some of them will pay the extra.
You can do the same with a “premium” or “elite” line of prom items. That little label, alongside the higher price tag, truly will appeal to some customers.
This also lets you introduce an anchoring effect. When a customer calls and asks about prom items, you could say, “Our Signature line starts at $40….” This will make anything that is later introduced at a lower price sound like an amazing deal, allowing you to gently nudge up the prices on your standard prom items as well. At the same time, you are fostering the perception that you have the kind of shop that offers high-end prom work. The key is to make these higher- priced options available and to promote them to customers.
And, then, what is the premium price this year can become the standard price next year.
Earlier we said it’s hard to charge significantly more for the exact same item you sold last year. One solution is to offer different products that defy easy comparisons. The goal is to add a lot of perceived value with relatively little increase in costs.
One option would be including some new materials, whether that’s wire in this year’s trendy colours, bracelets with rhinestones or pearls, or unexpected accents, like feathers. Products in these lines might be more expensive, but because they don’t resemble old designs, they don’t carry price expectations. Again, you give people a compelling reason to spend more without alienating people familiar with your old prices.
Enhanced service can be another way to add a lot of perceived value. Consider this verbiage: All of the items in our Prestige collection will be personally designed and prepared by our AIFD/local celebrity/prom specialist designer, and you can come by to have them expertly pin it on or give you a quick lesson on how to do it.
This added service probably doesn’t add much, if anything, to your costs. Few people are actually going to want you to pin on a prom piece, but the offer sounds good.
Setting Yourself Apart From The Competition
To some extent, the prom market is determined by what your competitors charge. If a reasonable alternative is being sold for $X across the street, you’re going to struggle to charge $2X at your store. This is called the “Substitute Awareness Effect,” and it makes it harder to charge more if customers are aware of less expensive substitutes.
The counter is to introduce the “Difficult Comparison Effect” and “Unique Value Effect.” If your products defy easy comparison to alternatives and/or appear unique, it is easier to charge more.
For starters, do not use the same names and images that are found on every other website. Instead use photographs of your own distinct designs with interesting materials, names, and descriptions.
It’s not just the product that matters – it’s the brand and experience too. Tiffany and Co. can sell an absolutely commoditized product (diamonds) for twice the price of the mall jeweller and three times the price of a diamond merchant. The product might be the same, but only Tiffany’s has that coveted robin egg blue box.
Can you credibly claim to be a prom authority? Can you add a section labeled “Your Prom Specialists” to your website or your promotional material? That simple addition gives you more credibility than the store that makes no such claim.