08 January 2007

I've got an evil plan...

My brother and I have noticed a sure-fire money making business plan for just about any consumer goods you can imagine. Consider:

-You can't sell crap. People eventually recognize crap. And people can tell quality with a little training. But, frankly, most people can sense the nuances that seperate a very good product from a great product.
-Fair Prices? Nuh-uh. Fair prices are for customers who do their homework. Most don't. Most rely on advertising to tell them what to buy. Most assume that a higher price means a better product (which, fairly, is often the case). But a staggering proportion of consumers buy products because they are more expensive.

Not only does mindnumbingly high price make something a status symbol, it has the added benefit (for the dealer) of being extremely profitable. And image-conscious people will snap it up and demand more.

So the plan we had was to select any popular consumer item, it didn't matter which. Make your version of the product to be about as good as the best mainstream alternative out there. You can even copy it to whatever extent you can get away with legally. Style the product/packaging to scream "exclusive" or "high-end" and advertise this exclusivity heavily. Then sell it at extreme prices, at least half again as expensive, maybe even up to twice as much as the other premium brands. Because you are fairly exlusive, you don't have to work to hard or find ways to make your production more efficient. The type of people who buy Tommy Hilfiger bathroom mats then flip the corner over so that the Tommy label is showing will make you rich.

Unfortunately, other people have caught on. Texan chocolatiers Noka are selling premium dark chocolates effectively identical to their competitors for up to 25x as much! While espousing their "unique purity" that justifies their crazy price tag, they really just buy their source chocolate from one of many good chocolate producers and use it pretty much as is. That's much more evil than I would have dared to be. The full story is available at DallasFood.org and is a great read about skepticism for consumers.

The founders are apparently former accountants from Canada. My question is: why couldn't they have stayed in Canada? I'd happily have some evil bastards helping out our economy instead of helping the States.

Hat tip to Cleek!

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