An Expression of Value
Most people rush to think of value in terms of price and quality. Those terms go hand-in-hand, moving on an incremental scale from low cost, low quality all the way up to high cost, high quality. Many products work in the middle of the scale, attempting to produce a high quality product for a lower cost. But what does value mean, really? It can be something as simple as a cost-benefit ratio, but there is more to it. Real value can be expressed in more than just terms of quality and cost; real value comes from the experience. A Tiffany's storefront doesn't look like any other jewelry store. They have created an environment in which their brand lives, a color that everybody knows, a name that resonates with quality. Does a diamond from Tiffany's have a higher quality than a diamond from another jeweler? The perceived quality of Tiffany's is in the name. It doesn't have to be the best diamond in the world because the customer will have the perception that it is. Tiffany's was built on the basis of high quality but they took it to mean more than the high quality and high cost of their products—they made it a high quality experience. They got things right: by increasing the overall value they were able to increase the cost, which serves as support to their high quality.
A lot of marketers dismiss value as a platform—to them it is more of a pricing strategy or a benefit of the quality of the product. They want to get customers emotionally connected to their brands, they want them to take away a sense of commitment and trust. Brands can live in value, and Tiffany is just one example. Apple has consistently charged more for their computers and products than the competition. They have sleek design, a different operating system, and the style that has brought them to number one. Apple is built upon value in the same way that Tiffany is. An electronics store can't compare to an Apple store. The entire brand is centered around the value of an experience that you cannot get anywhere else. If you go to Wal-Mart to buy an iPod you miss out on a piece of the experience--the product and its quality are only a piece of the design. The customer isn't as concerned with the price they're paying for the product when they buy it at the Apple store because they are drawn in by the experience. They can interact with all of the products, get hands on help, and really experience the product as they will use it—tying the experience back into their lives.
Tiffany and Apple both managed to pull their brands beyond value in terms of price and quality. By increasing the perceived quality of the products through the way they supported them in the way they are housed by their stores and even packaged, both brands are able to increase their overall value in a manner that quality and price alone cannot achieve.
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