The Price is often Not Right

Fact. We're all sucked in by marketing positioning on best price. No matter how long we've been consumers or actually in the game. 


Here in New Zealand, Mitre10 is a good example. Byline: "Best price. End of story." Well, actually it's neither best price nor end of story.


In Mitre10's campaigns - yet interestingly not on their website, where people are far more able to quickly match prices - they promote a 15% guarantee. This states that if you find a better price from a competitor for the exact same item (they get to define competitor), they will not only match that price but charge or reimburse you at 15% lower. Sounds good, for a consumer, and it's not too bad a positioning for a marketer to assess.


Marketing texts, when I did my MBA in the 90s, were full of examples of those who offered guarantees and those who didn't. It was a growing experiment of the time. Overwhelmingly, those who didn't offer any form of guarantee (aside from their legal obligations) stated financial reasons. Those who did also stated financial reasons.


In the former, companies worried about claim exposure. In the latter, companies understood better not only the customer's access to information, but the personal cost of follow up. Their argument, robustly proven over the years, is that the inflow of customers who felt comfortable and secure based on the promise far outweighed those who took the company to task at the business' risk of line-item margin.


My purchase decision today was based on that same sense of trust and security. I went slightly out of my way to purchase lightbulbs in bulk at a Mitre10 Mega. I try to support our local community supermarket wherever I can, to the extent that I buy at a premium often. I know it, and it's fine. Their access to national contract pricing is poor. But that company is here in our small town, keeping people in jobs and adding to economic wellbeing.


When it comes to bulk purchase - which four teenagers in a household will force one to consider, after summing the food bill on the bank statement (toilet rolls and milk, anyone?) - we shop accordingly. Moore Wilson's is good. So long as you don't buy the smaller quantity, less consumed items, you'll buy fine. 


So, I presumed Mitre10 would be a location of good value for lightbulbs. I have a trade account, so I figured: good price, even better with the discount. Not so.


On the way home, I stop into the community supermarket to buy dinner and casually check the lighting area. The same lightbulbs, $3.02 each at Mitre10 - less my discount, so $2.57, are $2.25. 


None of us will never buy the absolute best every time. If we can manage that, we're probably compromising a bunch of other things in our lives. However, it's a lesson to me today that if I'm too sucked in by marketing to the extent I presume where I will get the best price, I've learnt nothing from 25 years in the game. 


...I bought extra lightbulbs tonight from the supermarket which I don't need. I also don't need the chase-up on Mitre10 for the pennies under their guarantee. I'd rather devote the energy to talking about it.






"Steve who?" That's what my son and another musician he plays with said when I announced we're going to the G3 concert this March. "Heard of Toto," say I, "Rosanna?" Sort of. Which seems to typify most people's awareness of Toto, and particularly Guitarist Steve Lukather. 

The back-end of Rosanna could easily be interpreted as a tack-on jam, particularly by those used to the high rotation of the radio version; that and Africa on early fade out, in days when songs over four minutes were counter to networks' desires to cram as many songs into an hour as possible. 

However, without it, the song is musically, emotionally unsatisfactory. Drummer Jeff Porcaro, with his deceptively difficult shuffle groove, needs something punchy to play against to lift the whole thing, rather than the 'with' of the horns and keyboards, or indeed the mid-song lead break. Lukather launches into it off a jazz piano riff at 4:48, pauses, then lets rip. Jazzy hooks, but very definitely a great rock solo.

...Those boys are coming with me to G3, by the way. They think it's G2 and some other guy. I'm picking they'll remember Lukather afterwards just as much as Vai and Satriani. I might also tell them beforehand that whilst Eddie Van Halen delivers the knockout guitar punch in 'Beat It', the guy going the full twelve rounds on the song's great riff is - yep, Steve Lukather.





Comfortably Numb

I've been trying to play Gilmour's lead work right for thirty years. Even now, I still pick up stuff that's eluded me technically after all that passage of time. 

Sure, NME threw him into their list, unsurpisingly, but for Shine On You Crazy Diamond, not this. Nothing wrong with that, but both should have been there.

There's no better example than this song to illustrate the argument I've had with many folks over the years about whether the signature of Pink Floyd is Waters or Gilmour (stick Syd on the side for sake of a shorter blog).

Waters wrote much of Pink Floyd's stuff, certainly. But Gilmour took it somewhere unmistakable. And here, in Comfortably Numb, he had more influence than usual. He wrote the music, argued over Waters' too-soft treatment of the verses, eventually winning out in the composition, structure and feel with lead breaks brought in from material otherwise destined for his first solo album. His work dramatically lifts the piece.

If you're unconvinced, 32.8m You Tube views say so.





Ride On

In the early seventies, a school mate with divorced parents would return from visiting his father in Sydney each school holidays. 

Invariably he'd return with AC/DC records, not then available in NZ, which I found astounding. We thrashed them. Wore out the grooves. 

Ride On is a beautifully measured, well-tempered piece. Contemplative, with the honest emotion of boys in a rock band just oozing out of it. 

Angus has never bettered his lead work here - a brilliant follow-through to Bon Scott's scratchy lyrics 3:38 in, echoing an earlier fill, humbuckers humming, fingers flying and, quite rightly here, no care for technical competency over expression.





When NME recently published their list of the 50 greatest guitar solos of all time, I found myself both surprised and not. A publication which cut its teeth on and steadfastly holds to contentious opinion, all these years on, simply will be surprising by nature. No surprise there. Probably why I continue to read it.

There were some good and undeniable calls. Yet, some strange entries and even stranger rankings. Always open to new stuff, and stuff I may have missed, I methodically went through all. Quite prepared to be convinced, I found myself skeptical as to how much exposure to good music some contributors have really had.

So here, in no specific order, are those I reckon should have been there. No doubt I shall think of more, and the list in any form could well be as contentious to others as NME's own. Great! Tell me what you think as I post on each in turn.

1.  Ride On - Angus Young, AC/DC
2.  Comfortably Numb - David Gilmour, Pink Floyd
3.  Rosanna - Steve Lukather, Toto
4.  Forever Now - Ian Moss, Cold Chisel
5.  Red House - Jimi Hendrix
6.  All Right Now - Paul Kossoff, Free
7.  Still Got The Blues For You - Gary Moore
8.  You Make Loving Fun - Lindsay Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac
9.  China Girl - Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Bowie
10. Crazy Train - Randy Rhoads, Black Sabbath
11. Profession Of Violence - Paul Chapman, UFO
12. 316 - Eddie Van Halen, Van Halen
13. Child In Time - Ritchie Blackmore, Deep Purple
14. Brothers In Arms - Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits
15. Black Magic Woman - Carlos Santana, Santana
16. Heartbreaker - Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin


Blog Stats

  • Total posts(6)
  • Total comments(3)

Forgot your password?