Retail Strategy And Pricing In Bolton
1st May 2012
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Isn’t it funny how issues that have previously consumed hours of mental energy can sometimes be resolved in a flash of inspiration found by accident!

I was recently searching the aisles of B&Q looking for what I knew as a ‘Jubilee Clip’, a method of attaching a slightly larger pipe to a smaller one to extend a drainage pipe from the waste water tank of my motorhome. Thinking I knew what I wanted but being sure there would be several innovative solutions available to plumbers, I went straight to the plumbing and heating section of the store and began my search.

After a few minutes it became obvious that my original idea of a Jubilee Clip would be the best solution and I purchased a pack of 2 clips shrunk wrapped onto a card, for the princely sum of £2.08. Clever! I thought, I only wanted one but at that price I wasn’t going to waste any more time looking elsewhere and anyway I might lose one and then I’d always have a spare, so off I went to another part of the store as I also wanted some Velcro tape for another small job.

This is where I was taught an important lesson in retail strategy. Velcro was located in the leisure section, along with a whole range of other fixings to suit various purposes, rubber straps, nylon ties, sticky tapes and yes, Jubilee Clips, although they were now called ‘Hose Clips’ and packaged slightly differently.

What was really interesting was the fact that exactly the same product, once stripped of it’s packaging, as I had picked up in the plumbing section for £2.08 was now available in what I would probably describe as more of a ‘lifestyle’ section for £4.78, over twice the cost!

Firstly, I have to say that I was glad I had chosen to seek out the Jubilee Clip before the Velcro, as otherwise I would now be on my way, satisfied that I had fulfilled both my searches but £2.70 lighter in my pocket but then it struck me that I had been taught a serious lesson in pricing, that the same product has a different value to different people depending on what it’s going to be used for and the frame of mind the buyer is in when making the purchase.

I have been in retail for over 20 years and the subject of pricing has always been a thorny one, what to charge to entice the customer while maximising profit.

A lesson learnt from the consummate professionals at B&Q is that pricing can vary – and by quite a margin – depending on who you are selling to. Clearly somebody looking to make a purchase for the purposes of DIY or as a professional tradesman is going to be in the mind-set of getting the best price, while someone looking for a solution to something to improve their quality of life is much more focused on the outcome rather than cost.

For anybody involved in retail, whatever your field, this is a valuable lesson and something that should be borne in mind when fixing price points; know your market, identify your buyers profile and the frame of mind they may be in when seeking to make their purchase and price accordingly.

Not all customers are equal!

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