8 Ways to Market Expensive Products So They Look Like a Steal
Expensive products are judged by their quality, looks, value . . . There’s a lot that goes through a customer’s head when they’re making decisions. And in the end, everybody blames the price tag to be the common reason why people don’t buy a product. However, if the only thing you and your customer see is the price tag, your selling tactics might need an update.
Tell me if this rings a bell:
You launch your premium products. You’ve set the prices to reflect the quality, invested time, and creativity. Nobody’s buying. You’re now doubting the expensive price tags. The promos aren’t working out, either. You apply a quick fix and lower the prices. Orders start coming in, but your strategy for marketing expensive products has fallen flat. Sad.
Know what’s even sadder? Your customers would actually buy your higher-end products. You just need to give them a reason, added value, anything that would make them think: “Wow! These leggings are only $90!? What a steal!”
In this article, I’ll cover several tips and tactics that’ll help you market your premium products and land sales. Here’s what you’re in for:
Let’s make this happen!
Ditch the discounts
Discounts may seem like a bulletproof way to lure in new customers and satisfy your existing fan base. However, when you’re just starting your marketing efforts with premium products, discounts are actually something to steer clear of. And here’s why.
Products on sale tend to have a cheaper vibe than their competitors, even the high-end ones. People buy expensive products for the high product quality, and, most importantly, value. With luxury items, you’re actually offering this quality and value, so your price tag should also represent that.
Another argument for ditching discounts is that customers tend to get hooked on flashy deals and expect a discount with every order. So when they hop on your store and see your expensive items with no discount they hop right off.
Keep your expensive product prices as they are from the beginning. If you’re still searching for a way to delight your customers, offer them free shipping. That’s just one of the many ways to sell a product without lowering its rightful price tag.
Use smart pricing and selling tactics
If you’re considering changing a $20.00 price tag for a $19.99 one in hopes of more sales, you’re not alone. A study on the use of odd pricing in the retail sector revealed that 90% of the prices end with either 9 or 5. It’s a psychological pricing strategy called odd pricing and makes products seem cheaper.
However, while numerous studies support this odd pricing tactic, when it comes to marketing premium products—you might want to avoid it.
A study carried out in 2022 showed that odd pricing might harm your profit in the long run. The results revealed that, even though consumers are more likely to purchase items at odd pricing, they’re less likely to upgrade in the future.
Say you’re selling a premium printed t-shirt at $21.99. Then you decide to add a higher quality shirt with embroidery instead of a printed design. The quality increase and the more expensive fulfillment technique will press you to price this tee higher than the first. Let’s say, at $25.
Even though the less-than-$5 difference isn’t much, your customers will still lean towards the first t-shirt. That’s because the first price feels a lot cheaper than it is, making any price increase greater than it is.
Alternatively, with round pricing (where a price doesn’t end with decimals), the consumers in the study were more likely to upgrade to a more expensive product because the price difference wasn’t as daunting.
Rounded prices may also contribute to a feeling of luxury. Since prices ending with .99 create a sense of a cheap deal, round prices portray the opposite. Maybe that’s why luxury brands like Prada, Balenciaga, and Burberry tend to stick to round pricing.
To sum up:
Reformat price tags
A study by Cornell University investigated the impact of price presentation on consumers’ attitudes. They found that restaurant-goers were likely to spend more when they didn’t see dollar signs or decimal points on the menu. So this trick, plus the rounded price tactic, would make $12.99 into 13.
Our brains are magical, and there are plenty of ways to trick them. This study on price presentation proved that displaying prices in a smaller font size changes the perceived cost. Prices in larger sizes got more attention than those in smaller sizes. So in the case of marketing expensive products, format prices in a smaller size so they’re harder to notice.
Another presentation trick is using color to alter customers’ perception of your product price. A 2014 study showed that the background color of a price tag affects how consumers perceive the price significance and product value. White price tag backgrounds made the consumers perceive the product as of higher value. The white background color also increased purchase intention—people were more likely to go through with buying the item.
Play around with the price tags for your expensive items—try removing the currency symbol, use rounded prices to avoid decimals, and experiment with different colors. If you have the resources for it, I strongly recommend running A/B tests to compare the consumer response to different options and to see which tactics work best for your business and audience.
Place another, more expensive product next to it
Buying a mug for $40 seems ridiculous, especially if there are mugs selling for $25 at the same store. But, what if I told you that you could get away with selling the $40 mug by introducing another mug, one that you’ll sell at a $50?
When presented with three different pricing options for a similar product, the customer is more likely to choose the middle pricing option. This is called decoy pricing. A study on consumer behavior regarding product pricing viewed how introducing a newer, pricier product option lead to more sales for the original, cheaper product.
A kitchenware company Williams-Sonoma had listed a $275 bread-maker in their print catalog, and while it was a quality product, nobody was buying it. The sales changed when they introduced a similar bread maker for $429 and positioned it next to the $275 bread maker. The sales of the $275 bread maker nearly doubled because next to the new $429 model it seemed like a bargain.
So if you want to make your expensive product appear reasonably priced, put a similar but more expensive product next to it.
Embrace storytelling to connect with your customers
The first thing you should understand before writing a product description is your customer. Say they’re looking for a t-shirt. Are they looking for something trendy? Minimalistic? Or do they just want something cozy to lounge around in at home?
Once you’ve cracked the motivations driving your customers, you can mirror their feelings back to them via your product descriptions. And when done right, your customer reads the product description and makes an order thinking: “Yes! This is exactly what I was looking for!”
Your product description should be a balance of product specs (size, material, fit, etc.) and a story. Use bulleted lists to be transparent about exactly what your customers are getting and then set the mood with a good story. Get creative and paint a picture of what kind of vibe your product would bring to your customers’ lives.
Let’s take a look at this shoe description. Shoes are simple: you put them on, walk in them, take them off, end of story. Or is it? That’s not the case for the fashion brand Everlane.
The description starts with a bold statement: “A heel you can walk in.” It then continues the short product story to back it up. Afterward, you can click the dropdown menu to look into more details. Now that’s some beautiful website copy.
When people go shopping, they don’t just buy products, they also buy the feelings and potential experiences attached to them. Use this to your advantage in your product descriptions and marketing copy.
To help you spice up your content, here’s a list of sensory words. Understand the product you’re selling and the consumer behind it. Look at the product features and figure out what sensory words will make it stand out. Keep in mind your customers’ aspirations.
Learn More: How to Develop an Effective Marketing Strategy
Add worth to your product with sustainability and cause marketing
The bar for luxury items is being raised by the new generation of consumers. It’s no longer just about product quality and name. You also need to show what good your brand does for society and nature.
Think about how you can give back to the world. Is there a cause you deeply care about? Or maybe you can introduce a sustainable product collection? Once you’ve envisioned your brand’s role in a sustainable and caring society, take action.
It’s also important that you’re genuine about your efforts. Don’t just slap an “eco-conscious” label on your product because it comes in a cardboard box. Otherwise, you’re risking your reputation by being associated with greenwashing.
Do thorough research on where your product is made and from what. More importantly—be transparent about this information with your customers. Explain what exactly it is about your product that makes it eco-friendly or socially responsible.
When it comes down to it, being socially responsible is all about taking a stand. You should focus on a cause that’s important to you as it’ll help you orient and market your business. For example, donating a percentage of your profits to a mental health organization.
A great example of cause marketing comes from the world-famous ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s. Despite their fun products and witty flavor names, they know when to get serious with their brand. They’ve gotten involved in wildlife preservation, economic equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and more. Taking a stand has helped the ice cream giant strengthen its bond with its customers.
Stay up-to-date with global and local activism news, see where it aligns with your values, and be brave to take a stand. Back in 2020, following the Black Lives Matter protests, a study was done about consumer values and cause marketing.
To wrap this up, take a moment to figure out what your values are and how your company could reflect that. Take a stand for those values and be genuine.
Offer customer guarantees and extra services
Even after making changes to your pricing or marketing strategies, the thought that constantly keeps people from buying expensive things is: “Is this really worth the price?” You have to do everything in your power to prove that it is.
A way to do that is by matching your customer treatment with the high quality of your products. Make the customer feel accommodated and safe with perks like:
- An easy and free return process
- Friendly round-the-clock customer service
- Clear product warranties
- Exclusive access to content (ebooks, guides, etc.) and communities (like private Facebook Groups and forums)
Here’s an example from the online fashion retailer Zalando. While a large portion of their catalog is on the pricier side, it’s not just the product you get. When you buy from them you also get free shipping and free returns. As for the return process, they’ve thought of everything. You can pick your most convenient return option from multiple choices, including a contactless pickup right from your home.
Add quality visuals for high-end products
We shop with our eyes first, then we connect our brains to the process and start making decisions. To nudge your customers into purchasing your premium products from the get-go, quality visuals are a must. Here are four tips you should focus on.
Create photos that customers can easily relate to
Some ecommerce business owners fixate so much on identifying their expensive product via its description and promos that they forget they can do the same through photos. Keep your customer in mind and use your product photos as a tool to target them.
Let’s say your target audience is people interested in interior design and looking to transform their home with custom decor. Use this info and plan your photo shoot so the product translates to a cozy at-home vibe. You’ll mirror your customer’s wishes and they’ll be more likely to buy the high-end product because they’ll feel it was what they were looking for.
Add high-resolution product images
You’re trying to sell quality, experiences, and emotions—go for hi-res images. That means, aim for a minimum of 800 × 800 pixels, ideally 1200 to 1500 pixels in width/height. Plus, if you use high-resolution images, you’ll be able to generate a detailed preview by adding a zoom-in tool to your shop. Just keep your page loading time in mind and compress your images—they’ll still be high quality, just smaller in size.
Use video and 360° views as product marketing tools
Product videos increase conversions because they show the product and its benefits in a more effective way than a photo. Did you know that 74% of ecommerce stores report a sales increase after adding video content to product pages? ASOS has been using videos to help customers fully comprehend the product and make purchase decisions, take a peek at their example:
If you want to elevate your product visuals even more, use 360° product views. They’re trickier to master, but are certainly doable with beginner guides to 360° product photography.
Have at least one macro shot so customers can see your product up close
What do customers do when browsing in a real-life brick-and-mortar store? They pick stuff up, they touch it, and they feel it.
Macro photos of your products showing off their material, details, and finish are a way to imitate this process. The more your customers spend time interacting with your products, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
Check out some ideas for interesting macro shots:
- Delicate embroidered designs without a single stray thread in sight
- Detailed DTG prints
- High-quality apparel stitches
- Unique product details like buttons, zippers, and drawstrings
- Jewelry engraving
Start selling premium products with Printful
Be open to experimenting
Marketing expensive products is all about testing what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to what other luxury brands are doing—how they’re pricing and using visuals in product descriptions, etc. Perhaps you’ll find something you could use in your product marketing.
Remember that marketing is very individual. A marketing strategy that works for someone who sells leggings may not work for someone who sells home and living stuff. The same goes for your target audience. The bottom line here is to know who your customer is.
Have your customer in mind and experiment, experiment, experiment! When you’re introducing expensive products to your store, you don’t know how your customers will react to them. Maybe they’ll love them or maybe they’ll need some convincing to fall in love with them. You don’t know that. But you’ve now read through these 8 tips on how to market expensive products and probably already have an idea in mind to try out. Go and make that idea happen, have fun experimenting with marketing expensive products, and don’t forget to share your experience in the comments!
Disclaimer: This article was originally published in March 2019; it has since been updated.