Stack ’em High, Sell ’em Cheap

If you’re anything like me, walking into your favourite store with the notion of treating yourself is a regular occurrence. The feeling of excitement is even more heightened when it’s a store I can’t really afford, but I know I can get one tiny little thing which will make me feel extravagant (my favourite is Vivienne Westwood on Conduit St by the way, what’s yours?)

Invariably though, its not the designer frocks and overpriced couture selection I’m drawn to, its the more disposable and affordable items – I’m talking perfume, costume jewellery and if you’re a Vivienne Westwood fiend like me, the Melissa shoes. Doesn’t it feel great to be handed over that fancy designer carrier bag knowing that the item inside (no matter how small) is yours!?

After reading this story, where do you think Vivienne Westwood makes the majority of her money? It’s not the £3000 dresses or one-of-a-kind couture creations, its the cheap(er) stuff that we can all, just about, afford. We buy these items, not because they are in anyway better than a high street counterpart, but because we buy into the brand. We want a piece of our favourite designer in our lives and now, we can afford it. I think the popularity of the Lady Dragon Melissa shoes is proof enough right?!

Photography Credit: Flyinghorse Photography (full wedding here)

The way these items are priced is no accident, and when running your own business I’d encourage you to think about implementing various pricing stages throughout your range. A three 3 level structure is the most common:

1. low quantity, high price
2. mid range
3. stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap

Looking at this you can see why couture houses make the majority of their money from perfume – its readily available, cheap but still makes the wearer feel good, “Oh yes I am wearing Gucci/Prada/Ralph Lauren/Burberry etc etc today!” Similarly profit margins on these types of items are usually higher – the items are cheaper to produce and are being sold in vast numbers (hey, I knew my shopping tv background would come in useful one day!)

So, how can you price your product to attract each section of the market? I feel that many people in the wedding industry forget the third option and think that by pricing something cheaply it will devalue their product or brand. I don’t think this has to be the case at all…as long as you’re choosing the correct items to sell cheaply.

For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, why are you overcharging for prints? Prints should be a ‘stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap’ item  – they don’t cost you a lot to produce and if your price point is competitive, clients will be likely to think “ahh it’s only a few quid extra, I’ll get some from here instead of traipsing to the Boots one hour service…” You’ll sell a lot more of these items for very little effort.

Wedding photographer Lisa Devlin runs The Photography Farm where spaces are £950 each, but that’s not where she make the most profit, “I make more money from selling actions to other photographers at £50 a pop. They are affordable and easily available. It’s nothing like coming to the Farm and getting the bespoke full on teaching, but goes a good way to making their images look similar to mine. It’s kind of like Vera Wang, she’s at the top of the wedding dress market but she also sells mid-range crockery and affordable perfume.”

Stationers, how about offering DIY packages (where you supply the pieces but the client assembles the stationery themselves) or wedding planners how about adding a cheaper ‘on the day’ rate or even pay-as-you-go consultations as planner Tiffany Grant Riley has just started to do?

I’d encourage you to look at the products that you offer, your pricing structure and see if you fit into the 3 price point structure (or a version of it). Are you offering your clients a range of items at a range of prices? Are there any additional items you can offer at a low price in order to shift a higher quantity?

8 comments

  1. Thanks Kat for this article, it has really struck a chord with me today, I’ve been thinking about creating some DIY Bouquet and Venue Decoration Packs for a while now, but have quite simply done sod all about it. This might be the kick up the arse I need! xxx

  2. I am so happy to see this today! I make custom rhinestone shoes, but at a high price point, I realize that they are not for everyone. Rather than use anything other than Swarovski (which I feel is far and away the most sparkle for your buck), I have added glitter embellishments! They are still sparkly and fun, but for 1/3 of the cost. I’d still like to find the ‘stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap’ option, but until then, I’m so happy that I have opened my business up to a larger demographic!!

    Thanks for the affirmation, Kat!!!!

  3. This too has struck a chord with me, whilst people love my Tattoo cakes they are pricey due to the hours put in making them. I’m now creating Tattooed couples or Tattoo Wedding cake toppers or ‘simple’ cakes adorned with smaller designs on them so they can still feel like they’re getting something personal and alternative and most importantly Unique x

  4. Hmmm, I wonder if mini replica Wedding cakes would go down well with people??? Then they get to keep a little clay Tattoo Wedding cake forever…….I love this blog always so inspiring! x

  5. I started a separate print-shop for my client’s guests recently. It’s quite straightforward – I upload the images (and pay for the website), and then work out my price structure. The order is then fulfilled by a professional quality lab, rather than by me. As I’m not fulfilling the order (which is time consuming), I decided that I’d keep the cost fairly priced. It’s fantastic for me – I’m effectively outsourcing for guests orders, and it’s meant I’ve been able to sell prints abroad as well as the UK. Sometimes I’m selling prints while I’m asleep (it’s like zen multi-tasking!). It has the added benefit for the couple, where they don’t end up having to fulfill orders on behalf of guests once they get the DVD because the charges per print are reasonable. My aim is to ensure that guests get copies of images that aren’t printed at home on poor quality paper with normal printer ink because that affects my reputation, and a bad reputation is harder and more expensive to fix than the profit margin on a high-cost print could afford.

    Even if your brides and grooms don’t go for the “cost effective” option, who knows how many more clients we could attract by at least showing that we can be flexible in some areas, sometimes its about the benefit of perceptions of having good customer understanding that wins the day.

  6. Thanks for this post (sorry I’m late to the party – just catching up after a hectic week!) this is something that sounds so obvious when you say it, but I’d just never thought of it like that before! I have two businesses I’m building at the moment, and I’m going to use this approach in both of them – one of them to package my services in those tiers, and the other to develop products that meet all three! You are a genius!!!

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