Changing Financial Climate

I'm looking for some discussion, comments, opinions regarding whether or not you have personally made the decision to lower prices, make smaller stuff at $25 or less, etc. to try and get more buyers into your booths? 

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  • We have raised prices on the lower and mid-level 15% and %20. A $2,200 original framework is now $2,500. A $1,250 is now $1,500. Frameworks with prices above this level have remained about the same, but some newest works that we may have placed in the mid-level a few years ago are going in the higher level at $3,200...and thankfully, selling.

    Regarding lower price points, we have eliminated anything below $35. Our unmatted repros sell for $35 - $125 mostly with $65 being an average sale in this department. Sales of our repros have diminished in the last five years, actually, but they have been rebounding in the last year.

    Where we're missing out is in the $250 - $750 range. We do have a few repros that fit into this range, especially if I frame them just like the originals were framed. I don't have much time for this since we've had better success with higher-end work these days. So I have to focus on creating new work on the higher-end.

    None of our work is outsourced and we, husband/wife, don't have any employees. 

    All of what I've said is based upon my experiences with our own work. I will say that I don't understand the concept of making lesser expensive work to attract more lower-end customers. Our philosophy is to make better, more complex work to attract the higher-end.

    • The only low end stuff in my inventory, i.e. napkin rings @ $20 are there as the "last gasp effort" to use up scrap that would otherwise be discarded as waste. I have Jean making these now and we just shake our heads on the $$$ they bring in at each show. People get them for cabin/condo use, gifts and mementos of trip out west to mention a few.

      • Yep, I get it. My medium is recycled art, so I use up stuff that would be otherwise thrown away. I added a $25 art pieces to my portfolio last year, and I sell more of those than I do the larger ones now. The key is volume.

        • I'm no market analyst or strategist, bit it does seem that tech merchandise has changed the majority of people's thinking dramatically. It's scary to me. Two years ago that reality hit me, that I'm competing with the tech industry for sales.

          What I think I learned is that I'm an old school guy, an ol' fart if you will, and I'm only 50 years old! But I've been this way all my life. I think I learned that there are exceptions to the rule. So I'm reaching out to others, the exceptions, who fall into that category. They are out there, and I'm up to the challenge of finding and satisfying them.

          That may be why I don't try appealing to more low-end customers. I understand the use of scrap, and I do it, too. But my result is scrap combined with more scrap to make high-end stuff. That might be easier for a wood worker to achieve, especially when combined with a fine painting. But I've been lucky raising the price for even the smallest paintings simply by deviating from the norm and creating something to which someone makes a deep connection.

          My frames are complex, so they take a lot of time. I'm in a research and development phase with just about every frame. And that's the art of it, actually. It isn't gratifying for me to make an art product, over and over and over again, no matter the monetary gain. Monetary gain isn't the main goal. Time is valuable, so making minor work is not in my plan.

          Believe it or not, I read an article just yesterday in Picture Framing Magazine that discusses the very topic of this here thread started by Brenda Flynn. The author, Jared Davis, a sales and marketing specialist based in Brisbane, Australia (g'day, Annette!), discusses the basic two types of consumers, traditionals and NEOs.

          Traditionals are mainly looking for a deal. They are driven by three factors:

          1. Price - getting the best quality at the lowest price.

          2. Status - enhancing social position.

          3. Features - feeling they are getting more bang for their buck.

          These folks are the low-end spenders. They'll wait until they see a deal, and then quickly grab it. But they'll wait for the deal, or they'll move on down the line where they can get the deal today.

          NEO is an acronym for New Economic Order, and represents consumers looking for "something different, something extraordinary". Davis asserts that the recession has brought out more NEOs and that their discretionary spending has actually gone up. Their spending is consistent through economic highs and lows. They are responsible for 77 percent of consumer spending, and 93 percent of NEOs can be classified as big spenders.

          The customers I'm reaching are romantic NEOs. They're looking to be charmed, to make deep connections with the work. Connections are made when the message from the work swells inside them. Connections are made when they consider all that it takes for us to create what we do.

          • That's really interesting (and g'day back!).   Due to location, I think I'm surrounded by mostly traditionals - they don't worry much about the price, but definitely status and features have a part to play in their shopping.   Somehow I have to find some NEOs....hmmmm, food for thought!

            • My niche market loves my work, because it is exactly that - something no one else offers. Don't get me wrong, the high awards are always given out by judges to the oils and acrylics and the weird-but-so-thought-provoking mixed media recycle stuff. But, that's why I have to rely on volume. I don't make a ton of money that way, but I do have the satisfaction of knowing my work is in homes of people that just get a kick out of it, and they could afford to buy it. My market is a demographic of 30-60 age, who love whimsical and inspirational. Definitely NEO's.Mostly women, of course. With grumpy husbands in tow. ;-)

    • Thanks so much for your input! I started offering lower priced work to enable people of a lower income to purchase original art, but your concept also makes perfect sense. Do you sell commercially?

      • Income level is not the motivating factor behind all purchases,  Brenda. Even lower income folks who are into something so much will pay more money for what they want. So don't think that lower income folks won't spend more money in your booth.

      • Hi, Brenda. I'm not sure exactly what you mean by your question. I have been an art fair artist for a long time, but I sell any way I can and to whomever.

        • Just meant to ask if you sell to commercial clients, such as professional offices, real estate, etc. or if your clientele are collectors who buy for their personal enjoyment. 

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