Marketing to extremely critical customers

I went into Gregg’s Bellevue Cycle a while back to pick up a jersey I wanted (side rant: jerseys in the US don’t fit tall, skinny guys) and while I was waiting around, I drooled over the display of Seven bikes. I’ve seen them on the road, and they’re beautiful bikes, but up close I almost started to drool. The workmanship is amazing. They seem to hum to themselves on their stands.

Now here’s the thing:
– You can buy a decent bike for a couple hundred dollars
– You can buy a nice bike for under a thousand dollars or maybe a little more

After that, value takes a walk. I used my modest book advance to buy a bike (yes, I know) from a crazy shop in Florida. It looks a lot like this picture from their site. This is me being really cheap compromising with my desire to have an amazingly cool bike (and, admittedly, my need to be into obscure stuff no one’s heard of).

Seven’s marketing is a lot like, say, Ferrari’s. If you’re enthralled enough to pick up the brochure, they’re not trying to tell you why the bike’s worth more than a $1500 Trek. You know why you’re there. They know why you’re there. They’re now trying to explain why spending an insane amount of your annual income on their product compared to others is a good choice. They’re not even haggling over whether you should donate that money to charity, or buy a decent used car.

When the guy found my jersey, he apologized for the wait, and I said it was no big deal, I was just drooling over the Sevens. He mentioned that he owned one and then offered to let me take one out. I turned him down, not because I wanted to get back to work, but because I knew, if I took one of them out and it was as good as I felt it would be, I’d start feeling dissatisfied with my current (quite awesome) ride until I inevitably bought one.

That’s marketing: Seven has established, through little more than reputation, knowing its customer, and letting an experienced, jaded eye stare at their bikes at a local shop for a while, that they’re almost certainly the next step up from what I’m riding.

That’s a little frightening.