It’s coming up to that time of year again….
”So what would you like for Christmas?” you ask. “Oh, I don’t know,” they reply, half-interested “There’s nothing I want really Just get me a couple of pairs of socks.”
“Is that all?” you say, expressing outward concern that it’s not nearly enough, but inwardly delighted that the problem will be solved with a tenner and a trip to M&S.
“Yep, that will be fine, I’m going shooting soon and I want something to keep my feet warm.”
Now until this morning, that wouldn’t have set any alarm bells ringing. But until this morning, I hadn’t heard a story about a friend of a friend who went shopping for socks in London at the weekend.
He was in the Purdey shop in Mayfair perusing their guns and decided to pick up a couple of pairs of socks while he was there. He didn’t look at the price – they were socks after all, how much could they be? He was about to find out. The assistant scanned in the barcodes, put the socks in a bag and smiled…”That will be £550 sir.”
When I first heard this story I thought it was an exaggeration, or a case of crossed wires. Not so. Visit the Purdey website and you will indeed find several pairs of shooting socks available at £275 a pair. And they’re not even the most expensive. One pair of hand knitted socks are offered at £395. It almost makes the £275 pairs look a bit of a bargain, doesn’t it?
Now I know I’m not exactly skint, but I can’t imagine paying that sort of money for a pair of socks no matter how rich I was. What’s more, I don’t really know who does – other that tourists who are too embarrassed to admit that they just got seriously out of their depth – but the important thing is that there are people that do. They have wealth, and an attitude to spending money, which is completely outside of the understanding and experience of ‘normal’ folk.
But here’s what’s important….’normal’ folk are making a great deal of money supplying these people with what they want. And there are ‘£275 sock people’ in just about every market. They’re the people who want the best of the best of the best, and are prepared to pay for it. Yes they could buy a watch for a fiver but they’d rather have one that does the same job for £20,000…yes they could buy a regular set of golf clubs for £300 but they’d rather spend ten or twenty times the amount on a set tailor made for them using exotic materials. Yes they could buy an excellent bottle of wine in a restaurant for £50, but they’d rather buy something more exclusive covered in dust for £10,000.
I don’t know what the profit margin is on a pair of £275 socks is, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that it’s probably ‘a lot’. Most people’s natural instinct when they go in to any business is to try to compete on price. This is usually a road to ruin. Larger competitors with more resources will always be able to undercut you. So what I’m suggesting you do is this…
Instead of trying to be the cheapest, seek out opportunities to be the best. Offer a premium priced product. Seek out a position at the top of the market, not at the bottom. Look to do things better, rather than cheaper.
Don’t complain about the obscene excesses of the rich….capitalise on them!