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pricing / tea bag and all

updated thu 28 sep 00


John Baymore on wed 27 sep 00

one thing that always gets me is that I keep a couple of mugs that I
consider seconds to take to shows so that I can drink my tea and not
worry about if I leave it somewhere, or drop it, or anything, and
inevitably, someone will want to buy that mug, and I say it is not for
sale, and then they offer to pay whatever my top price for a mug is.
the craziest was one lady who said she was going to stand there until I
finished my tea and she did and took it off like some great prize, tea
bag and all.

Many people here in the US are not sure of their own "tastes" when it com=
to art. They don't know if they are "right".... and of course they know=

there must be a single "right" answer to the question . They have
probably not had much input on this "art" subject in their formal
educations, the subject obviously being less important than football in t=
minds of most boards of education . In their uncertainty as to their=

own aesthetic judgement, they often use OTHERS opinions to either validat=
or even override their own evaluations. Who in our society must REALLY
know something about art............. why....the artists themselves!

So.............. here is this artist who has obviously thought enough of
this particular piece to have it as his/her chosen personal drinking vess=
to comfort and sustain them in the day to day grind of a craft fair. So
what if it is a second......... obviously it has characteristics that mak=
it quite desireable to the artist.....and who knows better than the artis=
him/herself? So........ that mug must really be a good one....and if the=

percieved defect is not enough to stop the artist from using it, why shou=
that stop me from using it? If it is actually one of the best mugs
here...... why shouldn't I be willing to pay the top mug price for it? I=
about to get one of the artists favorite pieces.

It's psychology.

This psychology also follows into the "high price sells" in the pricing a=
teapot discussions. If the artist has set a really high price on this
particular piece....he/she must see great merit in the particular piece. =

If it is a really high price in a setting of much lesser prices........ i=
indicartes what the artist thinks is his/her best work in that particular=


Ten similar sized teapots in a row............. 8 at $100.00....... one a=
$125.00........ and one at $200.00. Which one is the artist communicatin=
non-verbally to be "the best"? Simple.

If someone HAS the disposable money.......... the question is not if they=

can afford the piece....but it is if they WANT the piece. Some people on=
HAVE $25.00 in disposable income to spend on a teapot....and that reality=

will affect their buying decisions. Some people have plenty more
bucks........ and that affects how they look at things too. Mel's Dansk
example is a great one...... someone who can afford the Dansk teapot.....=
certainly can afford to spend at least the same on yours. Remember
too....... there are also plenty of people who CAN'T afford that Dansk
teapot...... and shop at Bradlees, KMart, Ames, and other lower end place=
No matter how much aesthetic value they see in a Shimaoka-sensei
teapot....they simply can't buy one.

If "WANT" is great enough a person will sometimes even SAVE to accomplish=

the fulfillment of that want. So the issue is to deal with the DESIRE fo=
the piece. This is the "sizzle" bit. "Sell the sizzle". This is the
stuff Bruce Baker deals with.......creating the percieved value and the
"want" for the piece. There are two main factors involved in this ....WA=
and PRICE. If the "want" factor is low...then to sell the item the "pric=
" factor must be low too. EX : It's not a particularly great looking
cup....but it works to drink out of and it only costs $1.00. If the "wan=
factor is high ........ "Oh honey.....look at that wonderful mug........"=
then the "price" barrier becomes a bit less significant. =

The haircoloring people, L'Oreal, made an art out of market positioning
thru price positioning. "It costs more but I'm WORTH it!" They turned
high price, usually thought of as a sales barrier........ into an ASSET.=

"The more I paid...the more I'm worth." Bruce Baker's "It's not for
everyone.", craft fair closing technique he mentions in his audio tape is=

taking exactly this approach. In the right market, this approach works. =

Which brings me to "markets".

There are many different "markets" for handcrafted works, and these
"markets" operate in different price structures ..... and hence in
different socio-economic spheres. Different sales venues. You need to
deal with that in your decisions about what it is that you make, and wher=
you sell it. Teapots can be sold for $25.00, $250.00, $2500.00, and
$25,000.00......and they WILL sell in these ranges. If you try to sell a=

$2500.00 teapot in a $25.00 market venue........ you are fighting a very
big losing battle. Interestingly........ if you try to sell a $25.00
teapot in a $2500.00 are ALSO fighting a very big losing

If you typically put yourself in the $25.00 teapot venue....and you try t=
sell $250.00 will spend a lot of time getting "beat up"
about your pricing. You'll hear time and again that your stuff is
lovely....but SO expensive. And in that context IS. You'll also=

hear a lot of "I don't get it" 's too. To the people who you are reachin=
in that venue........ $250.00 for a teapot is WAY out understanding and
reach, and hard to fathom. All this negativity based on price will slowl=
errode your own confidence and have you eventually questioning the worth =
your pieces and their aesthetic merit. can either figure out how to profitably make the definitive
$25.00 teapot........or change your marketing strategy .

Conversely, if you try to sell $25.00 priced teapots in the $2500.00're work simply won't be taken seriously. Few people will=

see beyond the price. The few that do see the merits of the work itself
will tell you you are nuts to charge so little...and buy your stuff and
hope that shortly you will come to your senses and raise your peices and=

their very astute purchaese will appreciate in value . They'll spread=

your fame in an effort to do this to the prices , and also to show
others their great artist "discovery". =

"Perception is reality". Tom Peters and business
management guru. =

"Sell on quality, not on price." another Tom Peters quote.

This stuff above is certainly not all that there is to selling. The high=
price markets often have better educated and perceptive customers...... a=
the aesthetic demands tend to become more sophisticated and critical. So=

it is not as simple as dealing solely with price issues. But don't
discount the power of those price issues in the mix.



John Baymore
River Bend Pottery
22 Riverbend Way
Wilton, NH 03086 USA

603-654-2752 (s)
800-900-1110 (s)

"Earth, Water, and Fire Noborigama Woodfiring Workshop August 18-27,