Volume 10, Issue 1                     January/February  2006

Guest Column

by Joe Chernov

Price vs. Value
Epic Battle Takes Center Stage in Window Film Industry

The microphone lowers and in a dramatic baritone the emcee intones, “In the red corners stands Price. A fleet-footed fighter, he sidesteps costly testing and warranties to deliver rapid combinations of low-cost products. Volume is the name of his game. In the blue corner is Value. A heavy fisted, hulking force, Value marches right through undercutting opponents with a tireless dedication to quality and service.” The bell sounds and you look at your betting slip. Who have you picked to win? 

This analogy of a prizefight between price and value isn’t as crazy as it might seem. Every day businesses bet their future on one model or the other, and an epic battle is shaping up to take place in our very own industry.

Scientifically-engineered materials and adhesives have elevated glass films to a prominent place in the building materials sector. No longer limited to automotive restyling, window films have become a respected defense against solar rays, violent storms and even terror attacks.

But whenever an industry booms, new competition emerges. 

In the window film market, this competition has come in the form of low-cost products from suppliers that do not invest in the betterment of the industry. Specifically, these companies are able to offer low pricing in part because they neither join industry organizations nor support their customers’ knowledge base by underwriting training or seminars. 

Competition is good for business. From the manufacturer right down to the merchant, it strengthens every link on the supply chain. But competition also causes confusion, particularly at the dealer level. Every day dealers are forced to decide if they should continue to install the products they have known for years or if they would be better served selling today’s cheaper films.

Some argue that there are no winners in a price battle. It becomes a war of attrition: The last man standing wins. But this characterization is overdramatic when it comes to the window film market. There is enough business—automotive, residential, commercial, government—to support a wide range of business models. There are many customers who buy based exclusively on price; there are many customers who demand only premium products.

Ultimately, only you can decide if low-cost or high-value products are best for your business. But if you feel caught in the crossfire between price and value, the following guidelines may prove useful in helping you decide what kind of business you run.

Start by conducting an honest evaluation of your company and the customers it serves. Ask yourself the following questions: Is your window film shop one of many businesses you own, or is it your financial lifeblood? Are your customers one-time buyers, or do you view each client as a stepping-stone to future sales? Do you aim to increase profits as quickly as possible, or is your goal to build a viable business for the long-term? 

As you have likely concluded, a “yes” answer to the first part of each question suggests your company may benefit from selling low-cost products. Conversely, if you responded favorably to the second part of each question, chances are you are of the “value” mindset.

Choices are as plentiful as opportunities in today’s window film market. But before you can establish yourself as a true champion, you first must figure out what kind of fighter you are.

Joe Chernov is a marketing/communications consultant and author of “77 ½ PR Tips.” Chernov provides consulting services to Madico Inc. among other companies.

©2006 Key Communications Inc. 385 Garrisonville Road, Suite 116, Stafford, VA  22554
Phone: 540/720-5584, Fax: 540/720-5687 e-mail: film@glass.com