Why pricing is like Marmite (and why this matters)

Have you heard of Rapha? Probably not if you’re not a cyclist. I hadn’t heard of them until a I read a story in The Guardian that made me chuckle. 

Ceramic piggy bank

It’s okay to be a high-end business. Don’t listen to those who say you shouldn’t charge high prices.

It seems Rapha, a cycle clothing company, is either loved or hated by the cycling community.

You see, a few months ago, Rapha unveiled a new collection of clothing. And one set of jersey and shorts costs a whopping £480. Fair enough; some people are Primark, these guys are more like Harrods.

What made me laugh was the reaction on social media: outrage ensued!

“£260 for a pair of shorts is a grotesque amount of money!” shrieked one.

“For £260 I could buy 32 and a half pairs of Decathlon’s finest!” yelled another.

And apparently it’s not just the brand that attracts screeching rage. Anyone seen wearing Rapha stuff is ridiculed and sneered at.

So why the outrage?

I reckon it’s envy. Those who can’t afford something tend to denigrate it. It’s human nature. They’d deny it, of course; there’ll be shouts about the “morality” of charging that much — or paying that much — for clothes. How it’s “grotesque”.

But that’s nonsense.

Rapha can charge whatever it likes and it’s obvious there’s a sector of cyclists not just willing buthappy to pay for it.

Such is the nature of commerce.

I think it’s bonkers; but then, I’m not a cyclist.

I get the principle, though: I spend a lot of money on bed linen. And running shoes. And workout clothes for my pole and circus skills.


Because I spend a lot of time using those things and I want to feel comfortable and look good.

Rapha has done a great job of making itself into marketing Marmite: they’ve appealed to a very small sector of the cycling community who can afford their goods and who buy into their philosophy. Which, despite the shrieks of the outraged who can’t afford them, is pretty worthy.

The company loves and celebrates road cycling. That doesn’t make Rapha unique though; what makes it unique is its commitment to the cause. The company doesn’t just whack a website up and sling sales messages at its prospects; it posts inspirational essays, videos, and photographs. It sponsors events. It invests in grassroots and women’s cycling and has its own Super Cross series.

The company founder resurrected the Bordeaux-Paris endurance race and raised £200,000 for an autism charity in the process.

And, of course, the clothing itself is absolutely top-notch performance wear, not fashionable tat that looks good and falls apart after a couple of washes.

You see, it is possible to be high-end, be very profitable, and do a great deal in your chosen niche and outside of it.

Making money and philanthropy are not mutually exclusive, so don’t ever listen to anyone who claims they are.

Instead, make a decision today: what type of business do you want to have? Who do you want to serve and work with?

If you want to be high-end, to bring in more profits (and bring yourself more freedom), that’s great — but you have to make it happen.

Grab a copy of my book, Business For Superheroes, and find out how to charge more so your customers will pay you with a smile on their faces.




Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS Remember this: whenever someone says, “You’re too expensive”, what they actually mean is, “I can’t afford you.” There’s a subtle but important difference.

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