Friday, December 30, 2011


A few months ago my cousin said that Jan Cameron doesn't get enough credit for founding Kathmandu, a successful outdoor clothing company. I wholeheartedly agree with her. Walk down any Wellington street between April and November and you'll see that a big black Kathmandu puffer jacket is almost compulsory attire. You do see other brands but Kathmandu - who admittedly picked a excellent name, evoking images of trekking through the Himalayas - is clearly the dominant force. Their market penetration is impressive it must be said. And why does everyone need to dress like they're about to scale K2 anyway when it's a positively balmy 15 degrees?

Kathmandu have a BIG 60% OFF SALE! on right now. I'm actually not certain about that, but given that they have such a sale virtually all the time, and it is just after Christmas, it's a fairly safe assumption. They have a store almost opposite my office. I did pop in there once to see what I was missing. Big black jackets were reduced from $649.90 to $259.90, or something like that, but they were still well above what I was prepared to pay for them. I suppose most people are paying for the brand. That makes no sense to me. If I'm going to be a walking billboard for you, shouldn't you be paying me?

It's amazing how susceptible people are to advertising, branding, pricing, the shopping experience and everything that goes with that. I like to think I'm immune to branding but of course I'm not quite. I'd think twice before buying a Yang Song car, mainly because the brand name would be unknown to me so I wouldn't trust it. But I'm less susceptible than most and feel qualified enough to provide some anti-consumption tips:

1. If you think it's a rip-off at two hundred and something, the fact that it's reduced from six hundred and something doesn't make it any less of a rip-off.

2. If you have to buy A to get B free, then B isn't free at all.

3. It doesn't matter whether it's $39, $39.90 or $39.99. It's forty bucks.

4. Those ads where you can buy make-up "worth $250" for the special price of $50. If it was really worth $250 they wouldn't be selling it so cheaply.

5. There's nothing wrong with loyalty cards, so long as you don't change your spending patterns to pick up more points, which is of course what the shops are trying to get you to do.

6. Are you still at school? If so, it might be worth buying one or two brand-name items, if you (or your parents) can afford it, to fit in with the other kids. Otherwise be yourself and save some money.

After telling Mum I wanted to join a tramping club in the new year, you can imagine what she bought me for Christmas. Not one but two items from Krapmandu, sorry, Kathmandu: a thermal shirt and a lightweight waterproof jackety thing that folds up to occupy the same amount of space as your undies. Handy for trekking and despite my misgivings about the company I will wear them.

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