The price is right

Are you a haggler or a haggle-hater? Speaking for myself, i’ve absolutely no hang ups when it comes to negotiating a good price for something desirable – one of the fun things i enjoy about holidays abroad is going to a local market and having a good old haggle, before coming away with a bargain. i don’t limit myself to those occasions either: i’ll attempt to cajole the yellow-label guy in the supermarket into knocking an extra 10% off the reduced-to-clear items, i’m not scared to ask for a discount for cash, (which according to the UK government makes me morally unscrupulous), or for a reduction for bulk and, when it comes to high value goods or recompense for poor service, i can really go to town on the whole ‘make it worth my while’ angle!

Understandably, not everyone feels that way about goods and services, and many people will quite happily pay the marked price without quibbling or question. The way i see it – there’s nothing to be lost in trying for a bargain and, occasionally, i’ve come away with some astounding successes… besides, there’s nothing more fun than reeling in a salesperson, then seeing them sweat as you gnaw away at their commission!

Does that make me an evil person – no, it doesn’t. Either party to a transaction holds the power of veto at all times, it’s simply a matter of wits and nerve that dictates who crumbles first, but anyone can walk away at any time, none the poorer. A very wise person used to tell me that ‘value’ is simply a measure of how much you are prepared to pay – if you want it badly enough, you’ll pay whatever the asking price might be… similarly, if the vendor wants to make the sale badly enough, they’ll drop the price to the lowest level at which they are comfortable.

Recently, i came across an article discussing a Marketplace product that i’m sure many people would consider ridiculously expensive. Whilst everyone agreed on the extremely high quality and desirability of the product,  few would be prepared to shell out the not inconsiderable asking price to buy their own. Even so, there was at least one dissenter, who protested that for something as good as the article in question people should be more than happy to pay what i would consider to be well over the odds. The same person then went on in a ranty fashion to deride others about having no understanding of value – a somewhat amusing argument since those who had balked at the price are well respected, long-term members of the sl community and are known for their shopping acuity!

Here’s my point – value is very much a subjective commodity: it is not fixed and it is not absolute. An object’s value is not determined by its price but by a vast range of indeterminate factors… market position, label, uniqueness, trends and fads, personal preference, usefulness, compatibility… the list is endless, but the price is irrelevant: if it is something that we must have, then have it we will, whatever the cost.

There are people i know who would happily pay L$1000 for a quality scripted neko tail and ears – i certainly wouldn’t, and i wouldn’t pay L$100 either, or L$1… in fact, i wouldn’t even bother if it was a freebie – high quality, or not! The simple fact is that such a thing, although infinitely desirable for some, holds absolutely no interest for me and therefore has no value at all. It matters not that the creator may have invested hours of hard work in its making, or that it is the finest of its kind that money can buy – my money simply does not wish to buy it.

SL commerce is about value, not cost, far more than appears to be true in the real world. Certainly, in rl few of us would turn down a good bargain, but in the virtual world, it’s not so much about bargains, but about desirability. This is why there will always be a healthy trade in dubious quality freebies and dollarbies; and, for the same reason, the high-end stores, with goods that command eye-watering prices will continue to ply their trade… whether it’s a L$10,000 dress, dog or sports car… we will have to have it if we can’t possibly live without it; but, if we can live without it, then the chances are that we will, even it it sells for pocket money.

Of course, there will always be those spur of the moment purchases that we make, simply because something, or we ourselves 😉 , are cheap – invariably, they languish unused – permanent inventory bloat, which in a way, is worse than never having them in the first place.

s. x

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
The Monkees – Pleasant Valley Sunday

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3 Responses to The price is right

  1. There is also the fact that an “over” priced, high quality item attracts imitation. Look at SexGen, which had a near monopoly for years, but eventually someone was able to duplicate it and sold at a cheaper price. Sales plummeted.
    On the other hand BareRose sells very high quality clothing at a very reasonable price — and they sell a *lot* of them. I think in SL that is generally the better business model.

  2. Good article, Seren. I’m sure you know I agree that value is subjective. Also, agree with Shug’s comment to use Barerose as an example of a good business model. Have always admired Barerose for being high quality, and keeping prices at a level that people can afford. They’re also one of the few clothing stores where things are transferable. Their business philosophy has been a big influence on me.

  3. i agree with you both – there’s a very strong argument for selling high quality goods in sl at reasonable prices: people will always buy them for the quality but the lower price increases your potential sales. A lot of the Japanese creators, i’ve found, sell top-notch items for ridiculously low prices, when you consider the craftsmanship and time involved – it’s a surefire way of getting my repeat custom and recommendations!
    s. x

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