Price versus value
This recent holiday season, I was, for the first time in recent memory, ahead in my Christmas shopping and package mailing. Woo-hoo!! Maybe the planets were aligned, or my horoscope mentioned I would be extra organized this year, but more likely it was that retailers, giving a nod of recognition to the struggling economy, raised the bar a bit when it came to early holiday sales. Perhaps retailers were concerned that if they left sales until Black Friday, they would miss their mark for the year once again.
It was more than the prices though. I felt that retailers were focused on being a bit choosier with both stock and holiday help. Personally, I was pleased to see both. I would rather see fewer items and great displays accompanied by nicely groomed and well-mannered associates than racks crammed full and orbited by rude salespeople. This year, I could almost feel my wallet loosening with each, “Thank you for coming in today,” and, “Please let me know how I can help.”
Despite the deals and happy holiday faces that seemed to abound starting even in early October, as a consumer I felt well within my right to shop around, not just for price, but to give my hard earned money to those businesses I deemed worthy.
My barometer for value has changed in the past few years, especially during the recession. I now find myself gravitating to businesses that offer excellent customer service, stand behind their product, are involved in giving back, and who try their very best to exceed my expectations with each visit. Conversely, I have begun avoiding big box stores with the cheapest items and unhappy staff in favor of more wholesome, local products, even if they are more expensive.
Why? Quite honestly, it’s because I just like to feel better about where my money goes. Do I favor the underdog, the Mom and Pop shops? Yes, sometimes I do, but it depends on how they make me feel. Sometimes I like Nordstrom, sometimes I like the little corner store. It’s the experience. That’s it. No other reason. I like to feel like I am helping to preserve and protect the businesses that want me as a customer enough not just to say it, but to act like it, all the time. I have decided that I am in favor of the good guys who smile while stocking the shelves, ask how they can help and have knowledge about the store, rather than the disgruntled cashier talking on her cell phone while ringing up my imported, crooked-seamed fleece top that I just saved $4 on. Big deal.
Supporting solid business and promoting best value rather than the cheapest price has become my mantra in everyday life. Even if I have to budget, I would rather bring my lunch and save for a spectacular meal at the end of the week than spend a fistful of cash on mediocrity. To me, there is more satisfaction in getting the best overall value and not having to return it, regret it, or re-gift it!
The best value involves the entire experience and the residual effects long after the sale has been made.
One way of adding value and creating a memorable experience for your customer is by adding “lagniappe” to your repertoire. Lagniappe (pronounced “lan-yap”) is a Louisiana French term defined by Wikipedia as, “a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase, such as a 13th donut.” Particularly in the south, street vendors often throw in fresh herbs, spice mixes or a free baguette with purchases, creating a personalized experience and adding value for customers. Certainly a conversation starter and a creative marketing hook, Lagniappe originated from the Spanish word “la napa” meaning literally, “something that is added,” and although a colloquialism, the theory applies worldwide.
By adding the proverbial 13th donut to your strategy, think of the value you add in the customer’s eyes. What is your Lagniappe?
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”