Monday, April 27, 2009

Did Barbie Have a Label Maker?

Someone I know (who shall remain nameless, but for the purposes of this post, let's assume she is female) has a strange fondness for her Brother PT-1800 Electronic Label Maker. She bought the thing a few years ago for around $40 - $50; I figured if it only takes $50 to make her happy, that's just super. Well, that was until this weekend when we were at the office supply store and she decided to pick up some replacement label supplies. Two label cartridges and sixty bucks later, I learned how Brother distinguishes high-value labelers from low-value labelers: price the labeler low and the labels high.

This type of indirect price discrimination scheme should be familiar to anyone who has bought a printer and toner cartridges or Barbie dolls and Barbie outfits (the source of one description of this type of pricing strategy: "Barbie Doll Marketing"). The moral of the story: I should have known better than to think happiness could be bought for fifty bucks.

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