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Luxurious Relativity

Jan 23, 2008
"The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury." --Charlie Chaplin

I'm not sure luxury is really the saddest thing I can imagine. I understand the intent behind the thought but ultimately, there are many things sadder. I am a huge fan of luxury and yet as a pragmatist and a realist, I can see the pitfalls inherent when an average person believes they have to have a luxurious, rich life thereby racking up plenty of debt.

In a article on MSN, "Uncommon Sense: Luxuries you can live without -- and should", (http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Savinganddebt/Savemoney/P107710.asp), the author MP Dunleavey points out the new frames which define items which used to be considered ordinary and mundane purchases. These items, needed for daily life, have now entered into the realm of commodities with simple name changes.

Notice the frame changes. . . pots are now 'cookware'. Sheets are no 'linens'. Tennis shoes are now 'athletic footwear'. Watches are now 'time pieces'.

She argues that while the original products may be necessary, the "new, improved and reframed" need not suck us in. (Which is, unfortunately, what it is doing to "average Americans" who can no more afford a $5,000 plasma screen TV than they can a trip to the moon.)

To contrast this reasonable approach to luxury items, this Wall Street Journal article, "The Psychology of the $14,000 Handbag: How Luxury Brands Alter Shoppers' Price Perceptions; Buying a Key Chain Instead." (http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118662048221792463.html) describes a technique used by retailers pushing the limits of reason. The strategy involves a first tier of products priced far outside a normal person's ability (and hopefully inclination) to buy. It also involves a second tier, a product or products that stretch the consumer's ability to buy, but not by too much. For example, if you just HAVE to have a Tiffany's product, think about a $135 key chain.

She writes, "when shoppers are confronted with prices they can't afford, a smart retailer will 'move you right along to where you can salvage your pride,' says Dan Hill, president of Sensory Logic, a Minneapolis consulting company that helps companies explore their sensory and emotional connections with customers."

Fortunately for us, in working with an affluent clientle, we don't have to "put the screws" to prospects that shouldn't be attempting to purchase our services or products. Yet, the psychology behind altering price perceptions remains the same.

We frame ourselves properly when we suggest we are not the cheapest, but definitely worth the price. When we put out exactly what we require, we will alter perceptions. With that said, and with Charlie Chaplin in mind, one of the saddest things I can think of is accepting less than what we're worth.

What are you worth?
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches strategies to earn the business of affluent clients using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion strategies.
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