Archive for September, 2011

The Right Price

I just returned from an 18 day trip to three cities in Asia with a group of integrated marketing communications graduate students. Our objective: gain a firsthand view of the best business practices across a broad spectrum of global marketers and advertising/media agencies. We learned how Nike Korea encourages youth to take a break from cramming for school to play a little sport. This will require a cultural shift to be successful. We were introduced to the two tiered luxury market in China. Some buy luxury for the perceived quality and others just for the bling. And we got a glimpse into the making of a video game billionaire in Taipei. Passion, perseverance and plenty of help from his friends.

While we were learning how to motivate different consumers in the different marketplaces we were also motivated consumers in our own right. From shopping the night markets in both Seoul and Taipei to bargaining in the malls in Shanghai, we were our own little economy.

One day I took a couple students to the tailor mall. The official Mall is the Lujiabang Fabric Market but a former student introduced me to the three stories of stalls staffed with tailors and stacked with fabrics as the tailor mall and so it will always be to me. After driving what I thought was a hard bargain for six pashminas of various and dubious quality – do I really believe the 100% cashmere label – the scarf vendor spotted my shoes.

“Oh those are nice, very cool, “ she said, pointing to my Toms shoes.

“Thanks,” I said. “They are brand new. Just got them for my birthday last week.” I love these shoes. They are red with white calculus formulas on them and oh so comfortable. Plus with every purchase of a pair of Toms the company gives a new pair of shoes to a child.

“How much you pay,” she asked?

“They were a gift but I think they are around $60,” I said. (In fact they sell for $54, pre tax, so I was pretty close.)

“Oooooh,” she said and her eyes widened and mouth grew into a smile. And then she said something in Chinese to her brother and he reacted the same way.

“But these shoes are more than just shoes,” I said, “they are Toms shoes and with every purchase a child in need gets a pair of shoes.” And a puzzled look came over her face.

I started explaining what I meant. Using the word poor and underprivileged and thankfully stopping short of saying developing country. It was clear she couldn’t understand what I was trying to say and it was even clearer that she couldn’t get over the fact that I had paid so much for a simple pair of canvas shoes.

“Very nice. Pay that much, she repeated as I started to walk away.

“Xie xie, thank you,” I said. As I left the mall I thought about how one pair of shoes could make me look like a do-gooder or like someone who was easily duped into over paying depending upon the situation. Or maybe it depends upon your definition of best practices and the availability of a good translator.a child in need gets a pair of shoes.” And a puzzled look came over her face.
trying to say and it was even clearer that she couldn’t get over the fact that I had paid so much for a simple pair of canvas shoes.

“Very nice. Pay that much, she repeated, as I started to walk away.

“Xie xie, thank you,” I said. As I left the mall I thought about how one pair of shoes could make me look like a do-gooder or like someone who was easily duped into over paying depending upon the situation. Or maybe it depends upon your definition of best practices and the availability of a good translator.

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