THE TRANSPARENT PRICING
A new business model based on transparency has emerged from the current consumer quest for sincerity. The aim is to offer ethical, right-priced collections in step with new consumer demands and needs while specifying the costs and labour associated with each step in the supply chain.
STRAIGHT TO ESSENTIALS
Whereas most retailers tend to hide their production costs, some choose to highlight them actively. The motto of the U.S. ready-to- wear label Everlane states its values and philosophy in a simple way:
“Know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask why.”
Focused on essentials, Everlane is continuing its upward climb, maximizing transparency by supplying details for those wishing to learn more. Not only does the brand reveal its costs (e.g. those of raw materials, manufacturing and shipping), but it also provides information about its factories, their locations and the local weather in real time, complete with photographs of the production process. The emphasis on sincerity forges a rare emotional bond between the brand and its customers.
Like Everlane, Honest By plays up the concept of total transparency and informs the consumer about raw materials (origin and cost), the fabrication process and the margins at each stage (e.g. design, manufacturing and marketing). The brand further enhances its image by donating 20% of profits to charitable organizations.
In France, a few brands are starting to pick up on this idea. One is Maison Standards, which has decided to buck conventional fashion trends favoring transient styles and non-transparent practices. In a very straightforward way, it offers a curated selection of simple, classic products that have stood the test of time.
Naturally, these successes are linked to new consumer preferences. For instance, 64% of Generation Y would rather buy from a socially responsible brand than an “ordinary” brand, the subsidiary of a large corporation or even a luxury brand.
Bhavya Mohan, a doctoral student in marketing at Harvard Business School, points out that “when firms communicate the effort that went into making a good, consumers tend to value the product more.” And justifying and deconstructing the price of a product isn’t enough, in that they also want to know the story behind it!
Customers may be willing to pay a higher price for a product, but they expect the price to be justified and the quality to be beyond reproach. They see transparency as “a form of intimate disclosure” on the part of brands. A brand that does this becomes more attractive to customers and better able to strike up a more personal and sincere relationship with them.
Following the same model, Oliver Cabell uses infographics on its e-commerce website to break down the costs of making a designer bag, and establish the “honest retail price” ($200) versus the “actual retail price” ($970). The brand claims to be setting out to change a situation where designer fashion sells for 12x the cost to make.