What a Sale Really Means

Don’t Confuse a ‘Sale’ for a Great Deal!


We love a great deal… and that’s why we hate so-called sales! If you think of value in these terms: what something is worth versus what something costs, then the key variable is determining the personal ‘worth’ of what you are buying. That is inherently subjective, yet companies use ‘sales’ to make the determination for you. In essence, when an item is ‘on sale’, you are allowing the company selling you the product to tell you what it’s worth and then pushing you to buy because they are offering it below that price. In any other context, a strategy like that would be called a con… Yet we all inevitably fall for it. As my embarrassingly large collection of still shrink-wrapped Blu-Rays can attest to, I am speaking from personal experience here!

Like movie discs in a post-Netflix world, the most obvious reason an item “goes on sale” is because not enough people want or need it. Put in classical economic terms: supply exceeds demand. Of course, the more nefarious reason items are on sale is because companies know exactly how powerful a perceived good value can be. A sale is essentially a form of price-anchoring: by showing you one price (=lower) anchored to another (=higher), you naturally conclude you are getting a great deal. The problem is that usually the same company is setting both prices… and that company has only one objective: to get you to buy!

Even companies who don’t have traditional promotional sales do this – and in many ways most effectively of all. High-end Parisian fashion houses offer handbags for $25,000 for the sole purpose of making a $2,500 handbag seem cheap in comparison. Few people could rationalize a bag being ‘worth’ $2,500 but compared to paying $25 thousand, well that’s obviously a steal (sadly from, not for the buyer). Virtually every high-end designer fashion brand does the exact same thing in some form or other. They don’t call it a ‘sale’ because that cheapens their brand, but it is exactly the same psychological trickery at play. These strategies are by no means a secret, but I bring them up as a reminder of looking at sales as what they are: ways to get you to buy stuff you wouldn’t buy otherwise.

This may sound like an anti-consumerism message, but it is far from it. We think buying stuff is great… when it is something that you truly will get enjoyment out of! In a sense, what a sale does is allow the company setting the prices to completely frame the value proposition of their product. If you look at value as what something costs vs what it is worth, a product on ‘sale’ has essentially given you both sides of the equation: cost = sales price, worth = MSRP. What something is actually worth, however, is subjective and should be the most important factor of any buying decision (we touch on that here as it relates to our Ts). Defining worth as how it benefits you personally is what will ensure you get the absolute best deal possible. Don’t let a ‘sale’ get in the way of that!

So, what makes us so morally superior to other companies that are just trying to fulfill their duties to their own stakeholders to achieve maximum profitability? Absolutely nothing. We also want to sell you our product. We simply are betting that there are others out there striving to not be swayed by marketing gimmicks and yet still have a desire to own what they experience to be the best – in our case, t-shirts – out there. You could argue that our bundle-pricing is a form of a ‘sale’ as well and we would never deny that we hope it encourages additional purchases. The difference for us though is that this pricing model is designed to be permanent and is based on the real economics of our business as opposed to exploiting psychological blind spots. Our greatest expense – next to the Ts themselves – is just getting customers to find us. With that in mind, we can offer better pricing when someone buys multiple Ts since that “finding us” expense is now spread out over more T-Shirts. We are simply passing on those savings.

Our entire business is based on providing a product and brand that represents what we ourselves have looked for and couldn’t find. We value the highest possible quality at a fair and transparent price. We also like the confidence that comes with knowing you are getting the lowest price possible. We recognize that while we make what we consider to be “the perfect T” that is also subjective. That’s why we offer a hassle-free, zero-risk return policy. That ensures anyone can assess the quality of our Ts for themselves. After all… you should never take the word of the company trying to sell you something of what that something is worth!

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