A theory about perceived value

FrameMakers

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I was shopping with my wife last week. We passed by some cute little bird houses made in china. They looked good at arms length and were being marked down from $10 to $5 each.

My wife has a collection of craft bird houses that normally run $50 and up some way up.

My theory is that the cheap products coming in from overseas set the perceived price value. The consumer wants the quality of the higher end but feels it is to expensive compared to their perceived price value. Then they have to weigh Quality verses Price. Today price seems to be winning unless the difference is small.

Today I had a lady in looking for a ready made for an 16x20 photo. She wanted to add a mat. I showed her a 22x28 frame and some mats. The job priced out to $103 with us fitting the piece and dry mounting the photo. The job came to $120 with a custom frame that allowed for even mats around the photo. She thought hard about it and went for the custom frame. I'm sure that if the custom frame had been $20 more she would have gone with the ready-made.
 

Terry Scidmore CPF

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Maybe perceived value isn't the same thing with customers as what we perceive it to be. And it may not be just about price or quality, but about a way of identifying what is of value, and then weighing those factors against price.

With all of the postings on Joann, I stopped by the closest one to check it out. I haven't been in for a while, and wanted to see what changes have been made.

The last time I was in, the large ledge over the custom framing counter was filled with several framed prints - great mats, frames, fillets - all of the stops pulled out on these pieces. They were
displayed on easels. Beside them were several bolts of decorator fabric spilling out over the wall and the ledge, along with a huge display of silk flowers and greenery, great vase, and some other decorative elements. Looked great and made custom framing look like an important part of decorating.

This time, there is a large framed up picture with mats, fancy frame, a fillet, and part of the framing cut away. On various elements of the framing are the numbers 1 through 8.

Above the picture is: 8 reasons why Custom Framing with Joann's is best.

To the side of the picture, each number with a brief description:

1)Selection: 960 different mouldings
2)Conservation Grade Matting: to enhance and protect your art.
3)Conservation Glazing: to protect your art from the harsh UV rays.
4)Fillets: real wood fillets to add a special touch.
5)Acid Free Foam Core: we drymount your art to acid free foam core to protect it.
6)Paper Dust Cover: the dustcover seals out harmful dust.
7)Hangers: we provide quality hanging hardware on the back of your framed art.
8)Bumpers: to protect your walls and provide airspace.

I have kind of wondered why new customers were asking if the framing included paper, hanging hardware and bumpers. This started with the new wave of coupon wars between Michaels and Joann.

Joann's gave them a set of criteria against which to judge the perceived value of custom framing -
A little checklist that the customer can take with them in to the scary land of the picture frame shop.

So, I'm wondering if we can't do the same thing for potential customers. Maybe even spice it up a little - like adding: 9)we carefully fit your treasured artwork on 21st century worktops covered in Polyflute, or 6)our space age dustcover is trimmed to fit the unique parameters of your finished frame with a state of the art framing instrument. The customer doesn't need to know that we are talking about a razor blade, does he???
 

Jay H

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"drymount to acid free foamcoar..." Man that sound impressive!

I think one of the most destructive things to framers it the declining actual value of art. I get 3 posters to 1 print. Certainly the precieved value in the framing will drop with the precieved value of the art.
 

BUDDY

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Terry I do admitt that presentation was impressive. However one of their bullets did leave some room for rebutal.
They go through a littany of how they preserve your work them they addded in ;

4)Fillets: real wood fillets to add a special touch.

Am I mistaken or is that abit of an Oxymoron?Unless they mention what they were doing to counter act the "REAL WOOD" inside the frame and maybe even next to the work.

But I agree they are giving us a segeway to show what we can do and know just a little bit better.Don't you think?
BUDDY
 

Lance E

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Perception Buddy, the average consumer doesn't give two hoots whether or not there is protection from the "special touch".
 

Dave

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Edwardsburg, MI
Ya gotta hand it to JoAnn's though for actually merchandising and visually selling framing services. Most all advertising is fluff, but it works. It's often said that even bad advertising is better than no advertising in most cases.

I know I could do a much better job in visual merchandising in my showroom...if there were only more hours in a day. My dad use to say he'd pay retail for more time and it never ceases to amaze me now that he's gone that he becomes wiser every day.

I am very thankful for the merchandisers supplied by larger manufacturers an distributors...keep 'em coming folks!

Dave Makielski
 

Baer Charlton

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I think that brings to mind the question about perception vs personal knowledge.

How many framers have ph tested thier matboards and or fillets?

What ph level do you THINK basswood is?

Poplar? Raman?

Which is more harmful: ph-6 or offgassing of formaldihyde in quantities enough to fog glass?

And when you refit a two year old job that you did with "acid-free" matboard, "acid-free" mount, and ConClear.....what is that smokey fogging on the inside of the glass where the image is? And why does it test 3.5?

Or "if it's written, it must be true".
 

Whynot

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Perceived high skilled labor required to make a frame is, in my case, the name of this game. You'd be amazed just like I was to discover that same size, same profile, perfectly double gilded frame with mat and burnished intricate surface ornamentation is perceived by most framers to be less valuable, therefore too expensive, than one layer, imperfect gilding passing for a rubbed through finished frame priced just like the other one. Many times ridiculously simple finishes pass for intensively labored objects due to the fact that excellent craftsmanship and especially cleaner finishes are readily taken for machined frame's mark. I guess that many modern framers would be incredulous to learning that much treasured period frames were originally not rubbed and patinated at all, which comes to show how much our taste and appraisal abilities are driven by rigid paradigms.
 

Jim Miller

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I think you're right, Dave. The perception of consumers continues to evolve downward in terms of quality and price. Not all consumers of course, but the majority, anyway.

Why? Because the mass-marketers' ad campaigns scream "cheaper is better" several times a week in big, bold, professionally-produced ads in daily newspapers and mailbox-stuffers.

That works better than our typically-amateurish "buy my quality" message, whispered softly in an occasional postcard, coupon pack, or tabloid newspaper ad.

Is anyone surprised at the evolution of consumers' buying habits? We just have to keep finding new ways to attract them.
 

gemsmom

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Could it be that people who don't DO picture framing think that ALL picture framing is the same? We can all buy an item in one store at one price, then find the very same item at another store at a completely different price, or on sale. I know that Tide detergent is the same everywhere, and I am sure people think the same about picture framing.

What JoAnne's has done in their display is point out diffences in framing their customer's may not be aware of. Sure, they are not doing anything any different design-wise or material-wise than most of us already do, but many people do not know that. I think it is a great idea.
 

Bob Carter

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Dave-That is a great post. I think the follow up to your story might be that the "Half Price" ceramic bird house got you "in the door". Who knows, had they had some $25 houe and a few $50 styles, they may have had a trade up opportunity. But they did get you into their doors

And,Terry's post is showing that he is becoming quite the astute retailer. I'll bet that the 98% of folks that go in there will think "Positively" on their signage. Why would them touting "Conservation grade matting" ring any less truthful than when we do it?

Except that they may get 20 times more traffic than most of us.

Another fine example of how we ought to learn from everyone that retails any product-even those that actually sell, and sell a ton of it, the same product and service as we.
 

Terry Scidmore CPF

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Thanks, Bob! And I am learning a lot from you!

I don't think that Dave and Jim are incorrect about the impact of cheap prices lowering the perceived value of an item. I think that when you don't have any idea of how to compare an item, price will play a bigger factor in how much you are willing to pay for it.

Few customers are as dogmatic as I am in wanting to find out why, when, what happens if, etc. Most people want to know the the short story.

Which is why I think that the Joann display could be adapted nicely by the rest of us - with our own updates and corrections. It is the short story.

The second part of the Joann display - which I didn't tell about before - are 3 black and white framed photos. The first is titled "good" and is detailed as "cc glass, art dry mounted to acid free foam board, glass spacers, wood frame, paper dustcover, hanging hardware, bumpers". The next is "better" and is described as "cc glass, conservation grade matboard, art dry mounted to acid free foam core, wood frame, paper dustcover, hardware, and bumpers". The last is labeled "best" and is described as "cc glass, conservation grade matboard, real wood fillet, art dry mounted to acid free foam board, stacked wood mouldings, paper dustcover, hardware, and bumpers".

If I knew nothing about framing and how to pick it, I could probably use the 8 points and the good, better, best to help me decide about what to do. I don't have to listen to a lecture or read a book.

The constant couponing that Michaels and Joanns do may have a reverse response eventually. There was a 50% off your entire order going on when I visited. There were 50% off signs hanging over the design counter. It was the lunch hour time of the day. There were no customers. There was no framer anywhere. The clerk working nearby told me that the framer wasn't sceduled for that day. I checked the back room - there were no frames hanging up to be fitted, no mats laying around, no orders being worked on,no stacks of joins, no deliveries to be unpacked, and only 4 wrapped up finished jobs.
Of course, this was during the last few days before tax returns were due, but still. . . . .

This week is 60% off, and I will take another spin by and check out if 60% gets a better response than 50% did.

Yes, Buddy, Joann makes a point of using the phrase "real wood fillet(s)" pretty often. I guess that someone in marketing decided that it sounded "real good".
 

FrameMakers

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My covert trips to Joann's are pretty much the same as yours Terry. I have never seen more than a handful of jobs in there waiting to be picked up. I doubt if there clients are that much quicker to pick up than the rest of ours.

So if there not doing gangbusters with there sales, what's next?
 

Jay H

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KY
It sounds like to me that this company is doing just exactly what we would like to do. That is put two contradictory messages out at the exact same time, high quality and fair prices (value).

I can say from my experience that this is the hardest message to get across and from my gut the least effective.

But here is a company selling, and I mean really SELLING, a great product at a great price. Of the BB’s that I have been in, there is really little selling. They have won the price perception battle so the selling is over when the customer walks in their door. I’m fascinated that there is a BB that actually concentrates on the “feel and look” of the framing area and products. I’m tempted to go into one. I think there’s one in Evansville.

So you are saying, Terry, that your experience was good or positive there? Do you think that it really added “value” to their product?

I’m also fascinated with the idea of their displays educating the masses. I thought that’s what all us independent shops were for. Isn’t there a saying in marriage that if both you and your wife are exactly the same then one of you is unnecessary?

This thread is about value perception and if you ask me it sounds like Jo-Bobs (or what ever its called) is really helping to add to that perception more than take away. When a customer leaves there and comes to our shop with a request for some quasi-conservation framing, we win.

I have said in another thread that I don’t agree with LJ buying a partnership into Jo-Bobs. But if they are enticing customers to really look into lines like Antica, Verona, Stratovarious, ect, will we have any other option but to carry those lines. At that point quality and value is already tattooed on the customers brain.

Don’t we all believe that when the other guy closes the service and competency door, our door opens? I may never have the price door open but I’m not sure I always want who walks through it.

Dave, I’m remarkably aware of your situation and opinion on what LJ has done to the perceived value of your mouldings in your store. But is it possible that the long term of ramifications is positive for the overall scheme? Now if I could just get joins for 2.70/ft.

Bob, do you feel its possible for us to send both messages at the same time of quality and price? If you had to sell your business in 45 seconds do you lead with one particular card or do you try to show them all at the same time? It seems to me that businesses that lead with a specific card do a better job getting message across. That is except Jo-Bobs Fabrics.

Carry on!
 

Cliff Wilson

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Good, Better, Best.

When Sears (I think) started the "Good, Better, Best" promotions, I usually could see why each was a little "better." It usually had to do with "quality" which translated into warranty, and it looked "more rugged" or had some obvious features.

It sounds like this display is ... "Giving me your money is good, giving me more money is better, and giving me lots of money is best." I don't see the "Better" in which way indication?"

I would love to know if they got MORE "upgrades" with the display than without??

Unlike, the tradition "good, better, best" merchandising, I can "tailor" a look to a price point, using black moulding with mat, or gold with no mat for instance. Adding the mat doesn't make it "better" or more or less expensive for that matter. I don't think "Custom designs" lend themselves to this type of merchandising?

Now, in M's I saw a "good, better, best" display with Con Clear, Con ref cntrl, and perfect vue glass. Although, I might question whether more reflection control was "better," the display made sense.

When dealing with materials in a custom environment, "laminate, corean, granite" for counter tops for instance, the merchandising makes sense, but is a wine rack cabinet "better" than a traditional cabinet with a door? I think it's just different even if it costs more.

So, again I wonder, did this display get them more $$ per order? Wish there was someway to find out?
 

Terry Scidmore CPF

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Seattle, WA 98168
Jay, I don't think that I can judge the Joann displays as a customer would - I look at them the same way as many others have noted here - I chuckled with the emphasis on "preserving your art" and the "real wood fillets". In answer to your question, no, I didn't feel that in my eyes it added value to the product. But I am not the one buying from Joann.

I also agree with Cliff. I don't think that the good, better, best made a lot of sense to me. Again, as a framer, I wondered why they didn't use more specialty products and services in their example. (And I suppose after they read this that they just might start doing that!)

I wondered why my customers recently had been asking if the quotes I was giving them "included paper on the back, hanging hardware, and bumper pads". They never asked that in 22 years.

So, in some way, the list must help customers to understand a little better at least some aspects of custom framing. The good, better, best display might function the same way, too. Like Cliff, I wish that there was a way to find out.

I was curious why Joann included the points about the paper, hardware, and bumpers, but perhaps it had to do with Michaels. A while ago Michaels was advertising that they "preservation sealed" the backs of the frames. For a while, their framed pictures came in without paper or bumpers, and with brown or grey tape over the back of the frame, down the inside, and somewhat over the backing board. This was "preservation sealing" I guess. I thought when I first heard it that they meant sealing the frame with Linco tape or something like that. Maybe Joann picked up on that and decided to utilize this as a way to set themselves apart from Michaels. Or perhaps to set themselves apart from the preframed art they sell - some of that is sealed like the Michaels jobs.
 
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