Maybe they’re on to something

Music sales are down, so we should legislate to force people to buy an overpriced product. That has been the general consensus among record labels (spearheaded by the nefarious RIAA). Until now, that is. Last September Universal announced that they would cut their CD prices drastically. While I haven’t heard from many other labels specifically, I have noticed an increase in the number of CDs that are priced at only $9.99. Generally that’s the sale price, but it still means that the regular price is only about 12 or 13 dollars. It seems that these guys are finally willing to test the theory that people are more willing to spend money when something is cheaper.

Take a look at DVDs. The sales have continued to be fairly strong, not just because they’re harder to copy, but because the price is more appropriate. Double-disc sets for movies that have been out for ages are going for under $20. Why spend that money on a 40-minute CD I can download when I get a 2 hour movie with bonus features instead? I had put a moratorium on buying major label CDs while all of this crap was going on, then I walked into Sam Goody one day and found that I could pick up really nice greatest hits compilations for David Bowie, Prince, and Rush for $10 or less each. So I did. Today I went to Best Buy on my way to work to pick up a couple movies on sale. I also saw the latest CD from Rooney for only $9.99. I just got to hear them the other night at a friend’s place and dug their sound. So I threw it in my pile. Even just a couple dollars more and I probably wouldn’t, but that $10 barrier makes music so much more appealing.

But Best Buy is working that angle with everything. I’ve been debating about picking up the new collector’s editions of Alien and Aliens for 20 bucks each, but I just hate the idea of spending $40 on 2 items sometimes. Now, however, on top of the usually cheap price they’ve got a 2 DVDs for $30 deal going on that includes those movies. Bang, they’re all mine. And then I notice they’ve got the secial edition of My Fair Lady for only $17. So in the end there was no debate. I was suddenly spending 20 more than I planned, but I got another movie and a CD, too. That’s what I call a deal, and that’s what will keep me coming back even when there isn’t a sale.

The basic idea is, I’m willing to spend more money when I feel like I’m getting a bargain or, better yet, multiple bargains. $40 for 2 great movies isn’t a bad deal, and I often go for that. But $60 for 3 double-disc sets of classic cinema and a CD of new music – how can I say no?

Sam Goody and Suncoast also have a pretty good thing going with their Replay membership, even if their regular prices aren’t always the best. It costs something like $7 a year to join, and then you earn points for all of your purchases. I usually just go there to pick up things that I know will cost the same anywhere else, and then I get the bonuses to boot. The other day when I got the new PS2 I also happened to have a “double point” coupon and a $5 Replay certificate earned from previous purchases. So now I’m paying $5 less than anywhere else (since they all charge the same), buying a few cheap music DVDs, and getting credited as though I just spent almost $500. In the end I should be getting a $20 Replay certificate to complement the other $5 one I still have. Yeah, I’ll keep going there.

I guess my point is, some companies are finally learning that you make more money when you charge reasonable prices and actually give a damn about customer satisfaction. And if these places aren’t good enough for you, check out Techbargains or SlickDeals and you can really try to screw the big guys 😛 .