Alysha's Second Life

Where Fashion Is Too Good To Be An Obsession

SL Pricing Strategies….A Query…

So……I am about 3/4 of the way through the ENTIRE Shoe Expo.  That includes me relogging every 20 minutes or so (cause my laptop likes to complain…it’s all it has in life).  I got some some really awesome shoes, found some designers I had never heard about, and signed up for some more Subscribe-o-matics (expos are a great way to find subscribe-o-matic heaven!). 

However, during my expo shopping excursion, something has bothered me.  Or questioned me.  Or…whatever, you get what I’m trying to say.

So I will present my dilemma and question to the massses and would love to hear feedback from both sides:  both designer and shopper.

In RL, pricing strategies on items includes many factors:  materials, labor, advertising, management, etc.  I have a Business degree, so I understand all that and what it entails and how one affects the other.

But in SL, a lot of those costs fail to exist.  Materials are free (or mostly free, less texture uploading fees).  Labor is basically cut down to just the designer(s).  Advertising is still a cost, so I got that.  Management…well, if you run a rather large store and hire customer service people and such and you are paying them in actual L$ instead of products, then yes, that cost still exists.  There is also rental fees/land tier payments, so there is another cost.  But all in all, a rather less intricate network of costs are required (here is my disclaimer:  I am only going off what I know.  I am in NO WAY an expert or a content creator.  So there may be more to this or less or different.  This is why I am opening this topic up to the masses so that we can be educated.  Thank you).

So with all that in mind…..keeping in mind what we shop for in SL:  clothes, shoes, hair…..

What forces a designer to price a pair of shoes up over L$500?

Again, I am in no way saying I am an expert in ANYTHING regarding SL business nor am I saying that I think that the shoes are not worth it (in almost every case of shoes that I saw with high price tags, they were (IMHO) high quality and were probably worth the high price tag).  But, I’m Jane Doe avatar.  I don’t have a steady SL income, outside of the Lindens I purchase with my hardworking (but miniscule) RL paycheck.  I give myself a limit as to how many L$ I can purchase and that is my “allowance” until next paycheck.  I just like to shop.  It is something in SL that I enjoy doing.  I have no problem justifying to myself that the outfit at Business ABC priced at L$425 is a good buy because it has so many options and is not just pants and a top.  I’m all for a good amount for my money.

But when it’s L$500 for a pair of shoes….that’s it….left shoe, right shoe, and a base…..it starts to strain my purse.  Because then I see another pair…..for L$750….and another….for L$900…and these are not fatpacks.  These are just one pair, one color of shoes.  And just like I would not spend L$900 on a dress, I really cannot and will not spend over L$500 on a pair of shoes.  It even strains me to spend in the L$400s.  This is when you see me running to your store when you announce a sale of any stature…..even if the design is so old and being retired.  Because now, it’s at a price I can afford.

So is it just me?  Are there fellow shoppers that have a rule of thumb when they shop?  Designers, can you help enlighten as to how you price your products?  Do you have a rule of thumb?

There is no right or wrong here.  Just opinion and education.  Because I am truly interested in understanding.

Thank you everyone!
~*~ Aly ~*~

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July 21, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

13 Comments »

  1. When I’m trying to figure out a price for my boots, I usually go by the level of difficulty that is was for me to build them and if they actually do anything such as rez paw prints or my Vlinder boots with the moving butterflies. I will never price something over $400 unless it’s a fatpack because to me that is the highest I am personally willing to pay.
    I have had problems understanding why someone would charge over $500ld for a plain pair of shoes, be it heels, or boots, or sneakers. If the shoe is texture/color change then I’m more likely to consider it at a higher price, because I see it as getting more than one shoe out of the deal.
    I hope that helps a little?

    Comment by Sakuradawn Lei | July 21, 2008

  2. Thank you Sakura! It does help and I completely agree with your reasoning. Fatpacks are a totally different issue and should reflect the individual prices of shoes less a discount for buying in bulk. Or at least, I think that’s how it should go! LOL! And yes, the idea of color change/texture change should add to the price as it adds to the value, in my opinion. But, that too, should be within reason.

    Comment by alyshassl | July 21, 2008

  3. It’s a tough call to make, on one hand you can say it’s how a designer rates their own work above other designers. Or perhaps by having a high price will generate some sort of interest from the ‘Label Whore’ section of society. It could just be their selling strategy, you really want a pair of shoes and it’s L$900? Well you’re probably going to think ‘Fook it’ and buy them, but that will probably be all you spend in that shop. On the flip side if they’re L$200 to L$400 you’ll think, dang that’s cheap in comparison and maybe buy 2 or three pairs. Don’t even get me started on the lure of the sale.

    At the end of the day, no matter what the price is, someones going to buy them and you’re going to make money and there is pretty much bugger all one or two people can do about it.

    Comment by Kitty Lalonde | July 21, 2008

  4. I like shoes. I own way too many in SL.

    But, in two years, I’ve yet to find a pair that would entice me to spend more than 500L on them. And, actually, if I wander into a store and discover they’re charging those sorts of prices, I generally wander right back out again without looking at anything else.

    Comment by Ann Launay | July 21, 2008

  5. If the shoe is really well made – I mean some shoes look, well kinda weird or tacky. But there are those little gems out there that are well worth the L$500 and really if you think about it – nothing in SL is necessary. Its all to feed a virtual materialism – but it is fun to do it. If you balk at the L$500 then don’t buy them, just move on and maybe next week they’ll be on sale. It’s all just a commercialism economy in SL so there is no need for anyone to buy the best dang shoe anyway.

    I have a tough time myself pricing my items – is it too low, or too high? I never really know. I was told once in the same day by two different people that my prices were too low and too high – makes my head spin.

    For shoes, hair, jewelry and accessories that someone has to spend time above and beyond just futzing around in photoshop (which is hard all by itself) – I think that whatever the designer wants to charge is fair. If you think about it – L$500 isn’t really that much. True the designer could charge a nominal fee but then the item would be pervasive and “not so special” so with higher prices come exclusivity.

    Also consider the artistry of the work – true it may be only one designer, but their art/work is worth something isn’t it?

    You forgot to mention operating costs above and beyond just advertising or SL stuff.
    Computer & Graphics card – $500 to $8k USD
    Photoshop (I know there’s gimp, but lets pretend) $900 USD
    3D program to create sculpties (I know there’s free stuff) Zbrush $600 USD
    Internet connection $10 – $50 a month USD

    Now consider that the person in question is honest and reports their income to their government – that is added into the equation as well. But really there are those who don’t make much profit in SL and really do give away their stuff so I guess it just depends on the person selling the item and the people willing to pay for it.

    Comment by Sioxie Legend | July 21, 2008

  6. I have seen a couple shoe shops that have (IMO) insanely overpriced shoes. They sure look nice in the picture and I see them being worn by bloggers so am quite sure they are stunning. But I’ll be damned if I’ll pay those prices. Once I see a single pair of shoes and possibly even boots for $800-$900 and up I laugh and leave. I mean unless we’re talking about something beyond extrodinary it’s just not gonna happen. I pride myself on having a keen eye for well designed items and will buy the best if I really want it. These places that I’ve seen just don’t warrant it. What makes them think they are so much better than all those other wonderous creators who design lovely items for a fraction of the cost? It’s ego or greed I think.

    Comment by Nyx Divine | July 21, 2008

  7. Wow, I get called into a meeting and look what I come back to…ok, let’s see here:

    @Kitty: You bring up an excellent point. Like RL, stores price their items higher to present a feeling of luxury. Maybe it’s not meant for the masses, only those that feel they must have a label. It’s a very good point.

    @Ann: I’m like you. I will probably walk out of a store that has very high prices. Although, I probably have a pair or two that I bought at a high price simply because….well, it was just one of those days! ;o)

    @Sioxie: thank you for the extra costing details. I did not think of that. Although, like you said, there are not many in SL that are making a grand enough profit (I would think!) to report it for taxes hence being able to support those items you listed. I do not envy SL content creators. I can imagine it is a very difficult decision, deciding what to price their items. If I did it, I wouldn’t even know where to start.

    @Nyx: it’s a hard road as a shopper – choosing between those styles we “must” have and those we “choose” to have. If only our Linden purses were bottomless.

    Comment by alyshassl | July 21, 2008

  8. I agree, I won’t usually pay more than 500L for a pair of shoes. Actually, make that more like 400L given the number of designers who release amazing shoes for less than that.

    So what does justify a price tag in excess of 500L? Shoes like the Urban Bomb Unit Porn Star high tops – they’re a fairly unique product and buying 1 pair is like buying a fat pack.

    People are free to price their products however they want, and I am aware that there are costs to running a business in SL. But as a rule of thumb, I am only going to buy the product if it is priced similarly to competing products of equal quality. For good shoes, that usually falls somewhere in the range of 300-400L.

    Comment by Stephanie Misfit | July 21, 2008

  9. I am both – a content creator and a shopper, both with passion. as an horrible shoe addict i do agree – up to 300 lindens i just buy. 300-400 i start thinking. anything above 400 has to be extraordinary, very very special, from out of this world. or i have to be in that special – “i ll buy everything i like”- mood. which means, i ll probably regret the other day.
    and yes – you all have described market mechanisms very well. there are a lot of costs customers often dont see. its not only tier, hardware, software, marketing – the most precious thing is time (karl marx would say – working time is the only thing that determines the real worth of an item ^^))- considering the hours, days, sometimes weeks i have spent in creating a single thing and the actual linden/rl-money exchange-rates – sl-design is for most of us an expensive hobby, not business.
    but also – from my experience – its the balance between offering mass products or luxury goods which makes you decide about your prices. well, i can add a very personal point. most of my things i created for myself first – and those i love most are way more expensive then the rest 🙂 they are personal – and i dont want everyone to run around with them.

    Comment by plurabelle | July 21, 2008

  10. I have to say, even though I do own several pairs of shoes in the over 500 range that each time I consider long and hard before buying something at that range. I’ve heard other people say that they will spend that (and not just on shoes) because it makes the item more unique or it makes the item limited in some fashion but I don’t necessarily agree with that.

    My own decision usually has to do with the quality of the item, and how pleasing to my own eye it is. Shoes in particular are difficult, they just are. To get a shoe that looks good, looks *real* and looks *high* I think is a very hard combination. Especially one which does not mangle the foot and make it look deformed while the shoe is on. 9/10 of the shoes that can do that are sculpty and I am under no illusion that sculpties are not damned hard to do. There’s also the expense of purchasing software, the perhaps dozens of uploads to get just the right look. Then the texturing which is difficult whether it be for sculpties or prims. Sure you could potentially use the gimp but 9/10 of the designers i’m fairly sure are using photoshop and that also is an expense. A legitimate copy of photoshop is upwards of about 300 usd iirc

    Of course I sometimes wonder if there is possibly an element of….well let’s call it good old fashioned greed…in the pricing schemes some designers adopt but we also cannot know their rl situation or anything about their cost of doing business either.

    I am also in a situation where I have a budget and that’s all I can spend. I also however consider the amount of pleasure a given item will give me to wear. I mentioned recently that I don’t buy formals often. Why, because I probably won’t wear them much and I’ll feel obscurely guilty about the money I spent on it. I do however buy shoes – a pair of color change stud pumps for example, which I wear rather often and love dearly. Yes, the price was shocking but much less than buying ten pair of shoes and I got ten colors of an item which I feel (all other arguments aside) to be superlative.

    However, I do often wish that instead of charging (in one case) 800l for a pair of shoes, that designer would charge 400. I feel pretty confident in saying she’d get a lot more sales if she did which would more than make up for the reduction in price. On the other hand, I sympathize with the feeling that said designer worked their butt off to create that item and therefore feels they deserve a greater remuneration for that work.

    I think it’s a tough balancing act and I doubt there’s a solution in sight.

    Comment by sugarrdelight | July 21, 2008

  11. 400L is still less than $2 American for days of work. Yeah, you make that up in bulk (or, hope you do)- but there are people who expect custom work for similar rates as well. And, regardless, while there are some success stories, there are many many more cases of people making _far_ less than minimum wage for their time.

    Comment by Allegory Malaprop | July 22, 2008

  12. You could as well ask how Gucci justifies charging 1500$ for a pair of boots. I know that some SL designers put a lot of real time and real money into their work. And its not just designing and watching the cash flow in. They have to deal with failed deliveries among other daily SL problems, customer service, marketing and often managing shops in multiple locations. They are left on their own when someone copies their designs, textures or sculpt maps and sell a cheap ripoff that you may compare prices with. It’s hardly impossible to achieve a decent wage from what you would call a succesfull SL business. Thats why I really have no problem at all in spending $2-3 for a nice pair of SL shoes that don’t take up space in my closet and won’t kill my feet after walking in 5 inch heels for hours 🙂

    Comment by Candy Lee | July 22, 2008

  13. oops typo. ^hardly possible^ of course

    Comment by Candy Lee | July 22, 2008


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