perceived value

How to Create Perceived Value: Packaging and Finishing

Erich has more than 18 years experience as an award-winning digitizer, e-commerce manager, and industry educator. He empowers decorators to do their best work and achieve a greater success. A current educator and long-time columnist, Erich takes every opportunity to provide value to the industry. Find more information on Erich and his publications here.

If you have talked to anyone about pricing in the last couple of years and gone beyond the nitty-gritty of overhead, costs, and markup, you've probably heard the term value-based pricing. Though there's much more than one definition for this term, I'm going to give a more straightforward statement about pricing that hints at the idea that value isn't just about the numbers. The kernel of this concept is that you can price your goods based on the value a customer ascribes to the delivered work, and it hinges on a couple of things.

First, that price does not have to be pegged directly from input on your part. This one's important, so let me clarify. The price you charge does not need to rise or fall in direct relation to the cost of the goods and supplies used or the labor it takes to create or decorate it. Second, the price a customer is willing to pay is instead defined by the value. The customer perceives a product based on their estimation and experience. This value process is where we get to one of the simplest ways to justify a higher price to our customers by increasing our products' perceived value

Think of the last time we purchased a souvenir. I'd be willing to bet that even those of us who decorate apparel have purchased a shirt or hat from an event, perhaps from a concert or a destination that we particularly enjoyed, and likely at a premium. The question to ask is, do we think that it was the value of the blank good or the time spent in decoration that made us pay the premium price, or was it something else? Though quality and complexity can and should be part of the value/price discussion, perceived value can come from several different sources, and none require a 1:1 correlation with increased cost to create that higher perception of value that allows you to demand a higher price.

With this in mind, over a four-part series, I will detail four simple ways you can increase perceived value in your products. First up—presentation. 


The first thing a customer sees sets the tone for their perception of a product's value. When printers fold their shirts in bundles of 12 and stick them back in the original, beat-up shirt box with no additional preparation, they send a message. The product is a commodity, it is mass-produced, and the central unit here is quantity—the dozen. They can change that discussion by individually folding the shirts. They can add brand-specific hang tags or size taping. They can individually poly-bag each shirt, and they can even use pre-made, thought-out branded boxes, or at the least add their branding to the boxes they have.

Moreover, they can do all of these things with the customers' brand assets to aid in efforts with their end user. Any of these actions send a different message: that this item's central unit is the single piece. It is retail. Each piece is valuable enough to receive care on its own. Add to this the increased value an end customer ascribes to packaging, especially when that packaging is well designed, decorated in a way that is interesting or novel, or adds additional value as you might see in items like the sticker hang tag that offers the end user a branded sticker to go with their garment. Though these do add costs to any job, the sense of care and quality means that you can charge more than just a standard markup on these additional assets and labor. Make sure at the minimum that no garment is rumpled, lint-covered, or otherwise disturbed when it leaves your shop. Every garment is an ambassador of your value, but never forget to offer more to your customer. Hang-tag the samples in your showroom or those that you take to customers when determining selections.

Next, find out what investing in design and digitizing can do for your business.