Friday, January 2, 2015

Perceived Value for Resellers

Every time we buy Windex over the dollar store brand, or Seventh Generation dish soap over Ajax, we are exercising our perceived value. We've been programmed to believe that because they cost a little more, these products work a little better. Carter's clothing is nicer than Granimals. Ralph Lauren jeans MUST be better than the Arizona ones. Horizon organic milk is healthier than Marva Maid. 

But what does nicer, better, or healthier really mean? 

These adjectives are all a perspective deriving from our perception, to you does nicer mean its organic, its local, or it's handmade? Does it mean that everyone wants one? Or does it mean it's expensive, it's rare, it's endangered?

To me, rib-eye steak from Whole Foods tastes better than the rib-eye from Costco, and the rib-eye from Costco tastes better than the rib-eye from Food Lion. I'm pretty sure if given a blind taste test, I would not know the difference. Whole foods displays their food beautifully - it's food porn in the flesh, and is consequently the most expensive around. Costco makes you believe you're really getting a deal by being a member's only club, and selling you a giant slab of meat. Food Lion is like, "here's the rib-eye, take it or leave it."

(Click photos for photo credits)

So you see our perception of value is really also an illusion. And that is why perceived value is so important for resellers to understand. We need to create the illusion that our listing is superior to the myriad of other listings on eBay. 

So how can you increase the perceived value of your listings?
I think the three main factors are: Photos, Description, Price, in that order. 

Photos must be clear, quality and in good light, add a video if necessary to properly portray your item. The description should include measurements, and it's helpful if it paints a picture. Have you ever read a Chinaberry catalog? If YOU were buying the item, what would you want to know?  And price must be high. I generally price my items in the top 10% of equal items on eBay. 

The motivation for this post today, came from the following TEDTalk:

This TED talk given by Rory Sutherland, vice chairman of a British advertising firm, will help us resellers gain the perspective to add perspective to our listings.

Here is a fantastic example of marketing aiming to change the perception of a product:

and here is a little comic relief, an SNL parody of the above commercial:

Where are your strengths in listing? What areas need improvement? Are your photos professional quality, and your descriptions lack luster? Identify what needs to change and change it this year.

Can you think of a time when your perception of value has outweighed your logic? I'd love to hear what your thoughts are.


  1. I buy Windex over dollar store brand because the dollar store brand sucks. I've tried it and it doesn't clean nearly as well. I don't use Ajax or Seventh Generation but I'm sure most people that fork over the extra money for Seventh Generation is not because they perceive it as better, but rather that it is an all natural, no harsh chemical cleaner. Just my humble opinion.,

    1. The point here is some people will pay more for harsh chemical cleaners because that's what they want others will pay more for natural or organic cleaners because they find value in the environment. It's not a debate of what is better, it's how customers perceive value.

    2. For example buying seventh generation may make the person feel better about themselves because they feel they are helping the environment. Buying Ajax may make some one feel better because they were saving their family money.

  2. There was an ebay blogger who used to talk about perceived value all the time. I don't think she posts anymore though. Good photos usually give the buyer the idea that an item may be better than it is. I remember she would take doll furniture out of the crappy packaging it came in and photograph it to make it look more expensive. I used to use "flowery" descriptions, but ebay discouraged that, so now I just stick to the facts. Flowery is saved for Etsy now which is where I seem to be gaining in sales, so I may start focusing more there.

    1. That's exactly right about taking it out of the packaging. I don't do flowery.. But I do paint a picture "these would look great in a mason jar" or "has great disco vibe" to help buyers see outside of the box

    2. Yes, or "use as a centerpiece" or "cake topper" or "door stop" or "for a themed holiday tree." Yup, paint a picture.

  3. I agree with you. I think it's an ongoing process for most of us, but we eventually get there. When we start out, our pictures are usually poor, our descriptions are lacking, and we're afraid to put high prices on our stuff. As we gain experience and confidence, our pictures improve, our listings improve, and we start valuing what we're selling more.

  4. "Can you think of a time when your perception of value has outweighed your logic? " Yes - Tommy Hilfiger.

    Logically, I don't think the clothes will sell because in my opinion there is nothing that special about them. If you take the logo off, meh.

    But because the TH corp has done an incredible job, I've bought a few TH things for resale because I think the items will sell to people who have been influenced by the genius lifestyle marketing.

  5. Thanks for sharing the SNL video. I forgot how much I enjoy it. We don't have cable, but do have Hulu Plus and it has SNL. Perceived value sure does work for corporations and sellers, just not on me (anymore). LOL