The Flight To Quality — and Value

The Flight To Quality” is an investment term for when investors move their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. In The New Normal I write about, I believe we are seeing a flight to quality across a broad spectrum of business: media & marketing, retail, entertainment, sports and more. And I believe it takes the form of a a “Flight To Quality…and VALUE“.

Sometimes it is truly about quality and less about price…Take for example the recent case where a package of bed linens bargain-priced for $35.00 at Kmart sold significantly LESS than a quite similar package at Pottery Barn that was priced at $129.00. Was this because upper middle class shoppers at Pottery Barn are spending more freely in the recession than lower middle class shoppers at Kmart? Maybe — but actually I believe it was because the Pottery Barn product was higher quality, longer lasting and therefore ultimate a better value.

Similarly, look at what has happened to the live entertainment industry in 2010. (See WSJ article.) A shockingly large number of high profile, major tour dates were canceled by some of the world’s best selling music artists: The Eagles, Christina Aguilera, The Dixie Chicks and others. The reason? Low ticket sales. The reasons cited were (i) the artists were touring too much (over-saturating their market) and (ii) they weren’t releasing any new music (no new albums). So the public said: “These tickets are expensive, really. I saw this artist last year, and he/she doesn’t have a new record.  It’s not worth it.”

“It’s not worth it.” The attitude and outlook of the New Normal is defined by the question: “Is it worth it?”

  • In Sports: “Is it worth it to re-up and continue being a season ticket subscriber in the face of my team’s lousy management and escalating ticket prices?” see NY Times piece on personal seat licenses
  • In Media and Marketing: “Is it worth it to re-up and spend lavishly on traditional (read: expensive) media buys like radio, TV and print? Or should I shift my focus even more to measurable media online and in the mobile space, where I can calculate my ROI?” WSJ 9/23/2010

The margin for error has gotten smaller. And whether you’re buying sheets, tickets or advertising, these days you are going to buy:

  1. what works
  2. what lasts
  3. what provides the most VALUE

Sometimes it is about lower price, sometimes it’s not. But making sure you get what you want and need has never been more relevant.

Sir Richard Branson. “Our businesses need to be innovative, maintain a certain quality, be value for money and have a sense of fun.

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