Last week there was no escaping: deals, sales and must-haves for Black Friday. I always found it funny that even outside of the US it has become such a big deal. (I am sure if you ask the average Austrian on the street why we have black Friday, they have no idea that it is the day after Thanksgiving.) If you did not get what you looked for on Black Friday, do not worry, today is always Cyber Monday. More opportunities to shop till we drop, buy more things we actually do not need but we feel that the deals are just too good. But are they?
I did not make a single purchase this Black Friday. Personally, I get stressed out by all the deals and advertisements telling me about the next thing “I can’t live without”. And in the end, Black Friday is just another excuse to shop. Of course, I also want to save money and make a good deal. But my understanding has changed. A good deal for me is not saving 70% on a product anymore. It is when I invest in a high quality product which will last a very long time instead of something I wear once or twice and then I get rid of it. Whether it is a nice outfit or an addition to my home, I choose quality over quantity. Furthermore, I realised that the classic items usually never go on sale anyways. And rather than saving 70% on a discounted product, I see how much money I saved by not buying junk but something I really like. When I shop now, I do a lot of research regarding the brand and its values, its ethical ratings, approach to sustainability and how the items are produced.
This thinking is also reflected in my business strategies for Pelagona. I decided to not have any Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales . The reason is simple: I aim to build honest and transparent relationships with my customers and suppliers. Pelagona strives for luxury products, high quality, ethical sourcing and sustainability. I do not want to build the business at the expense of our artisans. On the contrary, I want to empower them and their businesses.
Pelagona’s prices as fair as we can make them – for the customer and the artisan. Paying fair and prompt prices is more than just cash in their hands – it is a sustainable income supporting the artisans, their families and their communities. Therefore, Pelagona’s products are not “cheap” or “bargains” – they reflect a craft which has been perfected for years. The products are designed in Austria and in collaboration with the artisans and then they are handmade by artisans around the world. There is no need to clear stock because we work with carefully selected items and small quantities.
The unreal low pricing on Black Friday easily tricks us into ignoring the true cost of the products we buy. A Black Friday discount always mean that those who make the products earn less – in the short- and in the long-run. It is also easy to forget that these products were made by people. The problem with this unreal low pricing is that customers will think that this is the true value of the products and that the regular price “cheats on them”.
I completely understand the this feeling because it happened to me too. I used to spend money on shoes, bags and outfits and most of the time I bought them at the regular price because I really wanted them and I associated the premium price with a craft, an art and a certain amount of time to make it. Six months later, the same items were marked down as low as 70%. I felt cheated. Within such a short period of time, the price dropped that much.
The more I learned about the luxury goods industry, the more shocked I was. There are in-house sales at certain luxury shoe brands where the products are marked down to less than a fifth of the actual price. (This price has also been confirmed by some shoe retailers I talked to.) What is the real value of these products then? Let’s assume a pair of designer high heels is usually USD 600, on one of these crazy sales it goes for USD 150 and the company still makes a good margin. Are these shoes then really worth USD 600? How can they be sold at such a low price compared to the regular one and still make money? And how were they really produced and by whom? This example is not limited to the shoe/fashion industry.
With Pelagona I aim at doing things differently. On the one hand, I do not want my customers feel cheated. Because I myself do not want to experience this myself either. If a product has a certain price tag on the store there is a reason for it – craft and skills of the artisans, materials, shipping customs, tax and of course there is a margin to reinvest in the company and pay my bills too. On the other hand, I want to create awareness that these products require a skill by a certain person to create them. Instead of marking their skills down, I want to celebrate them.
I do not mean to write a hate letter about Black Friday or shopping in general or to say that my approach is the only right one. I enjoy shopping as much as you do. But I wanted to write a little reminder to not get carried away by this shopping frenzy. Be smart and assess if you really need all the items or if they ended up in your cart because you thought you might lose out on a good sale. Happy smart shopping!