Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Louis Doesn't Discount

I’ve often wondered why there seems to be a wide variance between the expectations of certain brands who discount and those who don’t? 

Some brands set themselves up with different published retail price lists, (the manufacturer’s suggested retail price), whereby all different sorts of “discounts” are made available to the consumer.  Other brands have long held fast to the practice, the price is what it is.  For whatever reason, they’ve maintained their position in the marketplace and don’t seem to feel compelled to change their course, even in challenging times.


I wonder, if we took a poll of the Louis Vuitton shops across the world, how many have been automatically asked to reduce the price of their product by shoppers? 


A well-known, national furniture brand offers all of the elegance, quality and style, and yet the consumer assumes a discount or price concession will be given.  It’s a matter of programmed thoughts. 

Chances are the model, (in the 1st photo), would be spending more of her hours in the experience of the featured bedroom, rather than carrying around her LV bags.  Is the difference that more people will “see” her with her LV bags and the logo creates an external perception about her lifestyle?  Yes, Louis Vuitton offers exemplary quality, but isn’t there is a certain caché in the instant brand recognition?  (Recent article:  “Louis Vuitton, the French maker of laminated canvas handbags, is the world’s most valuable luxury brand for the sixth consecutive year.) Can this concept ever be captured by the home furnishings industry?

Have furniture and design been relegated to commodity items?  . . . of which the market treats as equivalent, or nearly so, no matter who produces it?  Is there a fear of loosing consumers/clients if a discount is not offered? 

I can’t help to be captured by the irony of comparing two of the definitions of ‘Discount’ and I thought you might appreciate them, too.

  • Reduction in price: a reduction in the usual price of something.
  • Dismiss something as untrue or trivial: to decide that something can be disregarded as unimportant, irrelevant, or untrue.

Gives pause for thought, doesn’t it?  Thanks for sharing yours.


Coming Soon – “Interior Design:  Trusting The Process”

GR Space Plan 3


The Fine Life said...

You've made some excellent points, Wanda. A fellow designer recently told me that during the annual meeting of the company with the highest priced stock in the world, big discounts are given to shareholders at shops in the area. She had been working on a kitchen for a client for quite a while. The designer priced out all the appliances through a local vendor, and gave the quote to the client. When it was time to purchase them, the client decided to hold out until the shareholders meeting and use the discount card, to get the appliances at the "special" pricing. Imagine the client's shock when the original quote from the designer was less than the shareholder's "discounted" amount. The store owner told her that they increase the retail sales price in order to be able to offer the sale price, and that she should buy them through the designer at the lesser amount. The kicker is that these shops are owned by the shareholders! The discount is an illusion, proving that both definitions of the word can apply at the same time.

I know we can all come up with some companies whose policies are that the price is set in stone, and if you discount without their permission they will revoke your right to sell their products. I don't think that would fly with the designer/client relationship. They can see the value in a monolith of stainless steel and circuitry, but your time, education and experience can't be easily quantified by some clients. I find that I am valued by them more when I am fixing their expensive mistakes!

(P.S. The only people who get discounts, or freebies, from brands like LVMH are the very ones who can afford to pay full price for a vinyl coated canvas handbag in the first place!)

quintessence said...

Very interesting question and also interesting and thorough response by Kathy. I think what you say is true however on several accounts. Firstly, I think there are many who see their fashion statement as a more evident "external expression" of their style. As more product and advice has become available directly to the consumer it makes your job as designers more difficult. I think the appeal of hiring a designer is always more valuable to the educated consumer who realizes that, as Kathy says, your " time, education and experience" count for so much more than a discount!!