Wildcard Friday – Why People Buy Expensive Jeans

By Nik


I hear it a lot from business owners: I can’t compete because my prices are too high. Yes, there are commoditized products out there, but to accept failure based solely on prices isn’t the type of thing that a brick and mortar store would easily do even with commoditized items; nor a good sales person. So in today’s Wildcard Friday, we’re going to explore the other factors that can easily be used to sell expensive jeans in the hope that this will help you, the business owner, sell much more of your products that you are currently having a tough time with because of pricing barriers. And I’m not alluding to discounts or free shipping, because that’s still boiling down to price.

The logical statement that guides are unique exploration today is: if a lot of people buy expensive jeans, then they can’t just care about price.

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I’m a jean person and yes, I’ll splurge for a good pair of $100+ jeans if the factors are in its favor. What do I look for? Well, it all happens so fast, but if I carefully think about it, there’s a system I employ, that a lot of people who buy expensive jeans employ as well. First, there’s the “Je ne sais quois“, the x factor: namely, sex appeal. A good pair of jeans is part of who you are when you wear them and if you believe your jeans are sexy, you will feel that way anytime you wear them. Finer details are very important – when I am in a brick and mortar store, I will carefully look at a pair of jeans on the rack before I try them on.

When I do try them on, there are two factors that can either add tremendous value or quash the entire deal: comfort and fit. Between two jeans that appear to be the same look and cut, I will take the more comfortable one. Finally, there’s the fit and the fall. If it doesn’t fit well or the length is too long or short, the excitement of finding the perfect pair of jean quickly deflates into a sigh. It all seems so easy in a brick and mortar: a good looking sales girl tells you that the pair of jeans you’re trying on makes you look great, you find the jeans comfortable and the cut fits the bill – but with all these factors in the favor of brick and mortars, how can an e-commerce site ever compete without offering the value add of price discounts?

Well, that’s the challenge, but as long as opportunities to overcome even the expensive jean quandary exist, there will always be ways around the price issue for other expensive products. Let’s explore:

  • Sex appeal can achieved in either efficient or streamlined ways. For a site that is willing to commit to creating brand new imagery for their entire inventory, a streamlined approach can be very effective. Ideal models and romantic context within product-specific imagery will serve a deep purpose in creating an immediate connection between your shoppers aspirations and the product you sell as the vehicle to those aspirations. If re-doing your entire site’s imagery is beyond reasonable options, efficiency can be achieved on a site through carefully placed site elements that carry the message of sex appeal onto less exciting product photos. Look books often play that role on larger brand sites, where flip books under the ruse of “editor’s outfit picks” or occasion based scenarios like “at the club”, “at dinner” allow websites to cleverly infuse high impact sex appeal into each scene. Some sites simply embellish their homepage, top category pages and even the background image that focus less on products and more on creating the x factor.
  • Finer details can easily be accomplished with high-res photos that artfully point out finer details of your products. Zoom in capabilities tell your consumer, “we’re proud of the craftsmanship that went into the products we sell”. Brands like the “J. Peterman” catalogue of Seinfeld fame use content to accomplish the same. I quote from their site: “When a man puts on this authentic French farmer’s shirt he may very well find that his hands look bigger. He will become sturdier and more forthright; either that, or more canny, only time will tell.”
  • The toughest challenge is creating a tactile experience from flat imagery. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of commitment to a concept like “comfy”. If your images have people smiling in their jeans, then that would convey comfort. A look book that shows a pair of jeans worn by a couple at their fireplace would convey comfort. Your content can easily express something along the lines of “these jeans are more comfortable than your favorite t-shirt” – something a person can relate to an actual feeling they are familiar with. Boasting “our most comfy jeans ever” can be a great draw from your homepage or even an e-mail campaign: and more importantly, it will help you compete with the experience that brick and mortars consistently bank on.
  • Finally, the perfect fit. Some sites showcase dimensions, but even those seem subjective: using words like “actual length” can help visitors understand that this is not your brand’s interpretation of what a size 0 is, but that it is exactly 24” around the waist. To overcome different shapes and unique figures, savvy women’s stores have incorporated a concept that is growing in acceptance: body shapes. A pear-shaped woman can feel more confident in a product that claims to be ideal for her proportions. But what we see more and more in not just the fashion world is customer reviews. The more people that claim that this product fits perfect, is comfortable and delivered on all promises, the less visitors who consider “trust” to be an issue and by far, more of your customers will already start feeling more comfortable in your pair of jeans.

I’m reminded of a story my wife wrote in high school about the perfect pair of jeans: you can search your entire life for it, but when you finally have them, you’ll realize that nothing has changed. But as long as people are searching for that pair, it’s up to us, facilitators of commerce and self actualization, to give them that experience well beyond the finer details of currency exchanged for denim. If you’re looking to inspire your customers to buy more from you, let us know and we’ll show you how we can help.

Have a wonderful Wildcard Friday folks and a very relaxing weekend.