Cartoon of hands tiptoeing on coins with soap and a rubber ducky

How Much Will I Pay for A Bar of Soap?

Just putting this out here: I am not a drug addict. I don’t gamble. And, aside from a periodic glass of wine, I am not much of a drinker. I wouldn’t say that my life is boring; but, when it comes to cardinal sins, I am kind of lame. That said, I have some vices. One of those vices is that I overspend on soap. I really really like handmade soaps. I like the scents. I like the texture. I like that they are more visually interesting. I don’t love that they are more expensive than regular soap, but I understand why, and the value to me is such that I am willing to pay extra. And that is where our story begins. 

Typically, I make soap purchases at a farmers market. I like to find a stand with some interesting scents and pick a few to buy. But, if I haven’t been to a farmers market in a while, I have a few online standbys that I use for my soap needs. One is a website that used to be called and has been renamed The Mad Optimist. Think of them as the Chipotle of soap. You pick the base, you pick the scents, you pick the mix in (for exfoliation), you pick the wrapper design, you name the bar. It is a great way to buy soap, and a fun treat. On my most recent visit, I found that they had redesigned the website and had some new functionality. (Good thing I’m getting to a discussion of web functionality. Admit it, you were starting to worry that I had gone all lifestyle brand on you, weren’t you?)

The new functionality included the ability to “choose your price” for the soap. The default price is $10, but I can move a slider and choose to pay anywhere between $6 and $16. The explanation the site provides is “We want our customers to choose how much they pay for products. Paying a little more helps offset the cost for those who need to pay a little less. We believe everyone should be able to afford personalized, all-natural bodycare.” 

Kind of a nifty feature, right? Well, I hate it with every fiber of my being. If it weren’t for the fact that I don’t know of anywhere else that I could design my own soap, I don’t think that I would go back. The reason is one of misaligned economic motivations. They are assuming that I am willing to base a pricing decision on my ability to pay. That simply isn’t true. Financially, I am able to pay $16 (or more than $16 for that matter), but I am not going to do so. I am going to base the price I pay on the value of the soap to me. That value is around $6 or 7 which is fairly typical of what I pay at a farmer’s market (particularly since I buy a bunch at a time.) But, because they are presenting the price as being based on ability to pay, not on value, when I purchase, it feels a bit like taking advantage when I slide that price down to the lowest end of the range. (By their logic, I am paying less because others generously paid more for their lavender/cedar soap bar with oatmeal mixin.)  

I want you to know something, I really really hate that feature. I love the process of putting together a nice bar of soap that I know I will enjoy and don’t want to end the process by feeling guilty for not paying more for soap than I know I will value it. I have spent a lot of time thinking about how much I hate this feature. I have talked to others for far longer than (I suspect) they were interested in listening to my loathing of this feature. I mean, I am writing this blog to express my displeasure.

Here is my point. I love technology. I love new features. But, before you launch a new feature, think it through. Test it out. Talk to your customers. Learn about their reaction. You might be surprised to find out that your customer sees things in a different way than you do.

Ready to test out some new features that your customers won’t hate? Let’s set up a time to chat about your online strategy. Contact us today.