The $94-million-dollar hairdryer

What would you pay for a hairdryer? $500?  Well, that’s what the new Dyson Supersonic will cost you, yes, five HUNDRED dollars!  No, it’s not gold-plated, and no it doesn’t come with a hairstylist to give you a blow-out.  It is however the culmination of four years of study by Dyson into redeveloping, you guessed it, the hair dryer, so yes…you can dry your hair.

This announcement was made in Tokyo on April 27th, and I’m still in sticker shock four days later.  What is probably more shocking, is that I fully suspect that there are consumers out there that will pay the five hundred dollars, ($590+ if they want the matching leather case).

Dyson have not been shy in explaining why they priced the Dyson Supersonic at the level they have, with the following comment response posted by Dyson Hair on YouTube.

This is a blatant attempt at market skimming to recover product design and development costs before competitors can respond, whilst blithely attempting to surround the product in an aura of quality and prestige in a second level of justification to the consumer.  I mean, we all know that you get what you pay for right (Iacobucci, 2013 p. 116)?  Therefore, a $500 hairdryer must be the best, so…

But are you getting what you pay for?  Is this product going to dry your hair any better than a regular hairdryer, or a towel, for that matter?  If you believe the Dyson marketing hype then you’ll be aware that the Dyson Supersonic is much quieter, lighter and cooler to the touch than your average hair dryer.  That’s great, however in the end all it does is dry your hair, not any quicker, not any better, just more expensively.

Let’s just take a little step back now to focus on the price that has been set for the Dyson Supersonic in the USA; $399.00 (USD).  Really, all being said, this price is the equivalent of $400, and yet Dyson have chosen to sell at $399 in the hope that as consumers read left-to-right they will process the three first and not fully comprehend just how much money they are spending.  Perhaps Dyson are also counting on consumers seeing their product as an investment as they may require less expensive visits to the hairdresser for a blowout.  These two strategies alone are not going to be enough to guarantee the sales that Dyson needs to recover their development costs.

If we look at GHD as an example perhaps we can understand the logic of Dyson and their marketing team.  GHD, or Good Hair Day, has somewhat become the genericised term for hair straightener nowadays.  And for a company that was started in 2001 and sold six years later for £160m one would assume they did something right.  By initially choosing selective distribution of their product via premium hair salons only, they created loyalty and goodwill within the hair industry which then generated word-of-mouth recommendations.

The GHD premium pricing strategy ($250+) could then be justified to consumers as they were buying the ‘best’ product that was recommended and used by the professionals.  At this point the distribution channels for the Dyson Supersonic are unclear, however the use of the British Hairstylist of the Year as a brand ambassador certainly suggest that Dyson are aware of the benefits of this strategy.

There is substantial risk here for Dyson, I hope their marketing team is up to the challenge.

Written by: Connie Sirmans (213219051)

References

Iacobucci, D 2013, MM4, South-Western, Mason.

 

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