Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Frugal Lessons from Luxury Shoppers: 3 Basic Questions Before Paying

High-end consumers can teach us a few things about getting the most for our shopping dollars. That's one of the tips I picked up from the January issue of Town & Country . The shopping rules are outlined below with a few of my comments.

1.Quality counts: "What is the quality and the level of workmanship of this object? Is this crocodile tote bag really worth several thousand dollars?" --Pamela Fiori writes in her Editor's Letter. Frugal Translation: Check the seams. Examine the product. Here are a few questions that I ask myself: Will this tee-shirt really hold up in the wash. Will this skirt look like a rag in a year? Will this dollar store toy be broken in a few days?

2. Consider packaging. T&C comment: "Is the packaging up to the product?" Frugal Translation: Forget the packaging! I don't want to pay for pretty cardboard and extra bows. Just give me a decent product at affordable prices, wrapped in recycled materials.

3. Shop where they treat you well. On this point, T&C delivered a few surprises. It turns out that some super expensive stores have horrible customer service, and that's a major turnoff for wealthy shoppers. In fact, one woman cancelled a huge order at an expensive Madison Avenue store that treated her poorly. "Snootiness and intimidation don't work anymore," the T&C editor writes: "Why can't luxury retailers figure out that the way to a customer's heart is through caring, considerate service. It baffles me."
In contrast, some mass market chains such as J. Crew deliver excellent service. Here's what the T&C editor has to say on this point: "At any J. Crew I have ever shopped in, I have experienced the kind of service that I expect from stores selling products at ten times the price." Frugal Translation: J. Crew, Target and Payless might provide a few tips for luxury retail stores. I never realized that discount shopping was such a luxury.


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