Quality Sells, Mediocrity Sales

Tori Fahey
5 min readNov 28, 2019

First it was Boxing Day, then Black Friday… Cyber Monday — now discount culture is so pervasive that discounts have almost come to be seen as a human right.

But the thing is; discounts aren’t a bargain. At all.

The world does not need more things sitting on shelves and in closets collecting dust. It’s not good for the Earth and it’s not good for our wellbeing.

Sure, discounts can have a functional purpose; compensating for defects or other shortcomings, but the vast majority of discounts serve a single purpose — to encourage us to buy on impulse rather than need or merit.

As a consequence of impulse-led buying, many of us have more stuff than we need or can realistically use. That half-price jacket you didn’t need and wasn’t quite the colour you wanted might have given a quick rush on day one, but inevitably lost its shine when you realised you spent 50 bucks that you never intended to spend… and you bought something you’ll probably not wear much because it’s not really what you wanted. It’s just a sad compromise. Our already cluttered lives are surrounded by these reminders of the things that we are not wearing or doing.

And it makes us less happy.

Discounting is an addictive and harmful drug for businesses. It’s a lazy rush to the bottom. A short-term boost that creates a long-term dependency that ruins businesses and leads to a dishonest relationship with customers.

As end-of-season sales become pre-season sales, companies either need to artificially inflate prices to accommodate for the fact that the product will always be sold for less, or cut corners on design, quality, environmental and social standards. The former is a shortcut to a bad relationship with your customers and the latter damages the planet and the community.

The sale cycle means companies can’t afford to spend as long or as much money investing in new designs and they have to push out another jacket that’s ‘alright’, but nothing special. They struggle to sell off their stock and once again drop the price.

The cycle continues.

Products get worse. Our houses fill with more stuff that will never get used. We try things on a whim and discard them just as quickly. It’s bad business and it’s killing the planet.

Instead of making cheap products destined for landfill and lazily marking them down when they don’t sell, how about just making good products?

There’s a reason an idea so obvious and straightforward has become controversial enough that we feel the need to say it. It’s hard. We know. Discounting is the easy route to a quick buck — anyone can do it, for any product… and it works. For a while, at least. Believing in your product and not relying on manipulation to market and sell is much harder.

It’s a challenge we took on when we started Apidura in 2013, choosing to build the business in a way that maintained an honest relationship with our customers and avoided the downward spiral caused by discounting and down-selling.

It’s why we don’t do ‘seasons’; instead making our packs in small batches and pursuing an evergreen approach to design. This means that we introduce even tiny improvements to existing products as soon as they are tested and ready (if it can improve someone’s experience, why would we wait until next year to release it?). And it means we focus on continuous incremental improvement and customer experience, rather than engineering obsolescence and pushing seasonal product replacement.

We are so committed to avoiding premature product replacement that we even offer free repairs on our gear, as well as tutorials for customers who want to extend the life of their products.

Given a choice between participating in a culture of toxic overconsumption in return for a short-term bump in sales, versus putting in the hard work for sustainable growth that both provides value to our community and customers, we’ll go for the latter every single time.

But HOW do you build a successful company without sales?

Well, here’s the thing — those customers you gained by having a sale aren’t really customers at all. They bought your product because it was cheap, not because they wanted it. Most likely, your product is gathering dust in an attic.

By rejecting discounting and sales as marketing tools, we have been able to focus on building a community that shares our vision of considered consumerism and appreciates the quality of our products. Investing in growing that community is harder than holding an end of season sale, but it’s also more rewarding. And our customers are far more loyal (and likely to recommend us) as a result.

It might seem counterintuitive to offer free repairs on old kit and discourage customers from impulse buying, but wouldn’t you rather be the brand your customers aspire toward than the brand they settle for?

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Tori Fahey

A business founder who is passionate about social impact and sustainability - qualities that are reflected in Apidura’s business processes and core principals.