Yesterday I got this article from WWD in my email - Fashion Brands Use Scarcity as Strategy With Limited Editions and then I stumbled upon this one from London Financial Times - Get it While You Can. My first thoughts based on the titles alone - "duh" and "move out of my way lady!" respectively. There seems to have been a greater increase of 'limited edition' items to hit the market recently. This is a great strategy for a quick boost in brand recognition and possible revenue, but too much of good thing can become tiresome.
I find this topic interesting both from the marketing side and as a consumer. On the first level I am a marketer's dream -- just dangle some shiny object in front of me long enough to distract me from my wallet. But on the second level, once I get the emotion of 'I want that!' I go in to marketing mode, dissecting what did this brand do to make me crave that item so much? It it heavily psychological, and it is not too hard to figure out that the whole idea of rolling out limited edition products is brilliant. You have a once in a lifetime opportunity to own something that only 500 or 10,000 or 200,000 people on the planet will ever get to take home as their own. Who doesn't want to be part the special club, proudly wearing your badge of honor? Especially if there is a great story to go along with it of how you waited in line for seven hours, in the rain, without any guarantee that you were holding one of the golden numbers à la Willy Wonky style. Limited editions = status symbol. Unfortunately, there are two problems for the buyer.
First, it is easy to get caught up in the hype that is swirling around and one does not necessarily take the time to answer the question if they will ever use or wear the item. Sometimes it is more about the experience of attaining something everyone else wants. But what if the appeal really is not as high as you thought; sometimes you have to ask yourself "am I really this lucky or is this just junk?" And what if it is really popular; this opens the door for competing brands and knock-offs. Your once celebrated limited edition is now one of many.
Secondly, since premium or luxury editions cannot be replaced because by definition limited, you become more hesitate to wear it out. There is a man in the FT article who says that he wears his limited edition trainers all the time. I don't know about you, but I have to qualify each event I take one of my limited edition handbags to...no smoking, not overcrowded, limited food & drinks, etc. Okay maybe that is stretching it, but you know what I mean. There are specific places and times where you know certain things are not going to be respected (ex., rainy days). Being hypersensitive about messing it up somehow ruins the whole enjoyment. Add this to the fact that some limited edition items are very trendy or quickly become dated. So your brand new status symbol becomes less of a symbol and more of a target.
The WWD article takes the view point of fashion as art. Not entirely just about the artistic value but as a collector. Sometimes I think I am like this, getting satisfaction by simply opening my closet. There are things I am totally happy about and don't hesitate to pull out and wear. There are others that I cringe about wondering what was I thinking when I bought that...anyone want to buy a lime green trucker's hat?