Price premium disguised as a moral obligation

2014-10-07 07.48.00A few months ago, early one morning, as I reached my regular bus-stop to school, I saw this ad of Desigual and it made me smile. It was not only a beautiful ad, it also mildly restored my faith in how one could actually turn their worst weakness into their best strength. Chantelle Winnie has had vitiligo from the age of 4 but she has conquered it through her modelling career. If you’ve seen clothes made by Desigual, you’ll know that there could be no better model to endorse this brand than her. Being as colourful as her, Desigual curled into a special place in my heart, until recently when I walked into the Desigual section of a mall near home. The clothes caught my attention and so did their price tags. Being a student, I might be a big biased here but a plain white top (banyan, my dad would call it) with a non-decript message in black was a crazy 95 Euros!!

Not being too brand-conscious, I wasn’t sure if I’d read the price right, so I quickly checked a few more tags and I started wondering what a customer was paying for. For a white banyan, I would surely not be paying either colour or design or unmatched handwork or quality. Before I could really think about its worth, my eyes went to the poster girl, Chantelle and I suddenly wanted to buy the top amply because of the special place it held in my heart. Immediately, I knew I was falling prey to the traps of responsible business advertising. Was Desigual charging me a price premium disguised as a moral obligation? While I’m damn inspired by Chantelle, I felt a bit cheated at that moment and quietly put back the shirt and walked away.

In competitive strategy class last term, we learnt about Patagonia’s approach to doing business. Their pricing (high) strategy is meant to discourage people from buying more clothes and this is their claim to responsible business. I wonder if Desigual has such intentions? If yes, I’m not sure the strategy can work like it does for Patagonia because Desigual clothes can get a bit overbearing much too soon spurring people to buy more clothes and in turn harming the environment if I am allowed to use the inverse argument of that of Patagonia.

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