Who isn’t challenged economically these days of grim reports on our shrinking economy? But do the retail pundits have it right? I think not.
My favorite online lingerie newsletter for the wholesale trade, McPete Sez, reports in their recent February e-newsletter that the US National Retail Federation says that consumers are shifting their purchasing priorities. But they didn’t get it right when they opine that “Shoppers will be trading down to discount and off-price retailers in order to stretch their purchasing power.” And God/Goddess forbid that they are actually recommending that insane solution to our present personal and business challenges!
Trading up is what is called for today, and exactly what makes sense for both individual corset purchasers, and corset businesses who care about doing the right thing for their clients. Judging by a surprising increase in January ’09 gross retail sales of our high-end couture corsetry and corset ensembles at ROMANTASY Exquisite Corsetry, that’s exactly what the smartest among our clients are doing. We’re more than happy to report a over-30% increase in gross sales compared to January one year ago when our small custom corset business precipitously hit the skids (I could have told our erstwhile former President that we were in a recession then; wonder why it took him nine more months to tell the evident truth?). So I’m not depressed. I hope my colleagues in the high-end of the lingerie business are not either, and I certainly hope our potential clients are not either!
It’s time to stress quality, even if one needs to re-price some styles to reflect a more-realistic marketplace. And it’s time to think creatively. We introduced a cute single-layer, fully-custom, steel-boned cotton “Sleep Corset” mid-2008 but in fall lowered it’s price by $20: http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=R&Product_Code=Sleep+Corset&Category_Code=cs
while at the same time we introduced a brand-new two-layer version we call the “Sweet Things” beginner’s corset for only $25 more than the reduced price of the first style: http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=R&Product_Code=%22Sweet+Things%22+Beginner+Corset&Category_Code=cs
Those two custom corsets remain our best sellers and for obvious reasons. But our high-end $600-plus custom corsets are also still selling, when we educate customers prior to purchase to fully realize what they are getting for their investment. We help them make the hard choice to bear the pain now to get what they truly need and want, but feel that pain only once for the 10 to 20 years their quality corset will endure.
For sure, present challenges encourage any business to re-examine old marketing ideas, old ways of doing business, and the product quality and mix we purvey. However, it can bring us back to our senses to find what is lasting in the tried-and-true, and what values we want to encourage in our customers, and in the way we do business, and it can help our clients make better choices. We’ve lived long in a ‘buy it now- throw it away tomorrow’ society. I don’t want to encourage more of the same, and do want to stick to a marketing approach and business model that focuses on “think first, and especially in a down market buy top quality carefully, then keep it for many years to come.” It just makes more sense!