Brands Grapple With Inflation by Being More Transparent About Price Increases

Cuyana sent out its price-change email in February, and sales have remained steady since then, Ms. Gallardo said. But that was months before inflation hit its latest peak in June, when prices surged 9.1 percent. Will the company need to repeat this process? “Hyperinflation is one of those things that you can never plan for,” she said. “So if that continues to happen and more costs go up, then we will have to think about it again.”

On a positive note, maybe next time around it won’t be so hard. “I think consumers are quite sympathetic now,” said Petrus Palmér, the founder of Hem. “For us, the net effect of raising prices was slightly positive. Whatever we lost in terms of amount of orders, we made up by the total volume in sales.”

Many customers are also shrugging it off. “I don’t love that prices are going up, but I have come to expect it, and for now I’m just taking it on the chin,” said Maricela Peña, who works in human resources in Minneapolis. “It doesn’t make a big difference to me how brands communicate about raising prices. If I really like a particular product, I will probably stick with it.” Still, if inflation doesn’t slow down soon, she may need to re-evaluate her spending, she added. “I haven’t hit that point yet.”

Bridget Herschap, a pathologist in San Antonio, agreed. “I have received price-increase emails, but I mostly ignore them and forget until I’m shopping and see that the total is more than I anticipated,” she said. Still, that doesn’t stop her. She recently bought a pair of shoes by Sarah Flint even though she knew that the brand’s prices had gone up a few months earlier. “I’m trying to be more mindful of what I’m buying in general, rather than cutting out specific brands that have gotten more expensive,” she said.

According to Professor Zhang, transparency about price increases may not be as risky as some companies fear, and if anything, may provide another opportunity to appeal to customer loyalty. “By showing customers that you’re going to be honest, you’re building your relationship with them,” he explained. “You’re saying, ‘We’re all going through this together.’”

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