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Discounters at the High End

Even high-end brands can offer lower-end products. We call the high-end companies and products Performance Leaders. These companies and products offer better performance than the Standard Leader products in an industry for prices starting at least 10% over the Standard Leader product prices. Price Leader competitors are those companies who offer less performance than the Standard Leaders products for prices generally starting about 25% below those of the Standard Leader.

Even Performance Leader brands can offer Price Leader type of products. These Price Leader products are high-end products with significant discounts to the normal high-end prices. This concept developed years ago with the emergence of off-price retailers and the Performance Leaders brands’ own outlet stores. The concept has evolved today to where these stores have their own distinctive merchandise and independent lives.

In today’s stressed economy, many of the higher-end brands are putting more emphasis on their factory outlet stores in order to keep their growth going. Cole Haan, the shoe company, plans to renovate or open 40 total outlet stores over the next two years, as it seeks high-end customers looking for bargains. Other companies doing the same include Liz Claiborne and Talbots.

These companies have to walk a tightrope. They want to protect their high-end, Performance Leader, brand and at the same time offer a lower-end product to keep growing in the marketplace. Most of these companies manage that tightrope walk by limiting the number of factory stores and by ensuring that these stores are at some distance from the locations of its main branded stores.

Some companies may prefer not to walk this particular tightrope. But if competitors will walk that tightrope, you may have little choice but to follow in their footsteps or see them gain market share at your expense.

Posted 5/12/08

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