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Trading Up [Hardcover]

Michael Silverstein
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 4 2005
First published to media acclaim in October 2003, Trading Up revealed how today’s middle-class consumers are seeking higher levels of quality, taste, and aspiration than had ever been possible before—in their choices of cars and clothing, vodka and beer, golf clubs and dolls, and much more. The book identified a major opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators, managers and marketers, in every category of consumer goods and services. Now Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske have thoroughly revised this BusinessWeek bestseller with new research and new insights into the still- growing phenomenon of trading up.

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From Publishers Weekly

In Bobos in Paradise, David Brooks traced the cultural forces behind the rise of what he called the bohemian bourgeois class. Now Silverstein and Fiske take a close look at its buying patterns. Both authors have v-p-level experience at the Boston Consulting Group studying retail practices, and they display deep familiarity with "new luxury" goods favored by a growing segment of the American middle market with more disposable income than ever. They're talking about people who take shopping tips from Oprah and Martha, swear their washing machine makes them happy, and dine at "fast casual" restaurants instead of burger chains. Many chapters focus on companies that produce specific luxury items. Victoria's Secret, for example, was a small, seedy store before it was purchased by a visionary retailer convinced American women would be willing to pay higher prices for attractive lingerie in a boutique setting. There's also the case of Callaway Golf, which was able to target new luxury shoppers to achieve a tenfold increase in revenue within just three years. Even the toy market can become a breeding ground for high-end items, like American Girl dolls, a line with an extensive back story that appeals to the luxury consumer's desire to "know" the pedigree of his or her purchases (just as some wine aficionados jump at the chance to display their mastery of California vintages). Despite the book's slight technical flaws, including a high degree of repetitiveness, its insights into a highly lucrative market (e.g., single women earn in excess of $374 billion annually) make this a must read for anyone interested in practical economics.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Many words can be written that underscore the truth about trading up--or, in these authors' words, "consumers who selectively trade up to better products and trade down to pay for other premium purchases." Writers have documented the trend of middle-market Americans to selectively decide that, say, a luxury automobile or vacation is worth the extra bucks while "sacrificing" other goods, such as dining out or clothing. With much perspicacity and no small amount of statistics, Silverstein and his coauthors underscore with eight practices what leaders need to do, including never underestimating customers to using influence marketing and seeding success through brand apostles. However, many of the examples they use are the "same-old" case histories--Williams-Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Canyon Ranch, Samuel Adams Boston lager--that have been employed time and time again to illustrate other segmentation and marketing theories. Yet the concepts are valid; the caveats should be heeded. What's needed? Extraordinarly savvy marketers who can stay the course in the toughest of economies. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! June 16 2004
By Mellee
As the next generation in a family business rooted in luxury, I bought this book to expand my knowledge of the 'new luxury', middle-market consumer. The book was brilliantly written and well executed in terms of the combination of research, data, interviews and testimony complied. The authors made intelligent choices in the companies they profiled and the success tories they told were not only informative and helpful, but were inspiring. The language of the book was very straightforward and succinct. I have made this a mandatory read for anyone that works for me. I also bought and read Living It Up: America's Affair with Luxury by James B Twitchell which I also found to be an excellent read. I began my self-tutelage with Twitchell's book and in my having now read both, think I should have read this book first. This book laid a great foundation for what I met in Twitchell's book. My only complaint was that is was not longer, which is why I rated with 4 out of 5 stars, but I suspect that is just my brain being the sponge that it is and wanting more input.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good proposition but..... June 5 2004
The trading up proposition is interesting, but the readers can grab the gist of the book by just reading chapter 1 which summarizes the entire book, and chapter 14 which covers the way forward. The other chapters are like exhibits to support the executive summary.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New Criteria for Self-Definition June 3 2004
Silverstein and Fiske brilliantly examine New Luxury": a rapidly developing socio-economic trend as America's middle-market consumers are trading up to "products and services which possess higher levels of quality, taste, and [key word] aspiration than [other] goods in the [same] category but are not so expensive as to be out of reach...[trading up to products and services which] sell at much higher prices than conventional goods and in much higher volumes than traditional luxury goods and, as a result, have soared into previously uncharted territory high above the familiar price-volume demand curve." The significance of this paradigm shift has profound implications for literally anyone who competes each day for consumers' attention, consideration, and (most important of all) business.
Think about it. How to explain the spectacular success of diverse companies such as Starbucks, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Lexus and BMW, Williams-Sonoma and Bed, Bath & Beyond, Restoration Hardware, Victoria's Secret, Prada, Coach, Panera Bread, and Callaway? Granted, most consumers cannot afford to purchase everything from companies such as these but an astonishing number of consumers are not only willing but eager to pay a premium for at least a few of the products offered.
Why? Silverstein and Fiske offer several reasons. New Luxury merchants never underestimate their customer; they shatter the price-volume demand curve; they create a ladder of genuine benefits (i.e.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, but there's others out there May 20 2004
Good case studies. Interesting if you haven't read other books on the sociology of shopping. I think Twitchell's Living it Up: Our Love Affair With Luxury is a more thorough and engaging read that explores the same issues. I'll put it this way: I got both books from the library to read. The Twitchell book I decided to actually buy because I knew I would be re-reading it again and again over the years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding view of the new way people buy April 8 2004
I loved this book for several reasons.
1) The premise made sense from the beginning
2) They backed it up with real data and examples
3) The book was highly readable (not an academic snooze inducer)
4) The information is useful to my business
A brilliant successor to Paco Underhill's outstanding "Why We Buy."
Are people shallow if they identify with certain products or lifestyle choices? Perhaps. What this consumer trend says about people is not the issue. It's about how businesses must adjust to this phenomenon to remain viable.
The book visits the concept of "Death in the middle." The market is polarizing more than ever. The biggest successes are either the lowest cost or the highest. People are moving away from the mid-range products. Your product is either a commodity or a specialty item.
People are choosing which goods that they want to be identified with - good that define their passion and personality. They will spend a great deal more on these few items. Everything else is unimportant, so the cheaper the cost the better.
So if you are a marketer, position your products as either the lowest cost or the highest. If you are a product manager, design your products to fit one or the other class. Don't die in the middle.
I wonder if we'll see this phenomenon in books. Maybe we'll start seeing $75 luxuriously bound books for people who love reading. I'll keep watching to see if anyone tries it.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Would have been better as an HBR article March 12 2004
By A Customer
Though the authors touch on some curious trends, they don't ever get to a level where they are explaining the theoretical causality of the "trading up" phenomenon. And they miss use their "case studies" in such a way that they are anecdotes highlighting their story, rather than teaching tools. In the end, readers would have been much better served had the authors written this book as an article.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful for marketers
I found the defensive tone of the introduction to this book very distracting. It was as if the authors had completed the book and then an editor got worried about readers getting... Read more
Published on Feb. 29 2004 by Experienced seminar leader
5.0 out of 5 stars New Criteria for Self-Definition
Silverstein and Fiske brilliantly examine New Luxury": a rapidly developing socio-economic trend as America's middle-market consumers are trading up to "products and services which... Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2004 by Robert Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Excellent book that describes what Americans are willing to spend extra on. It explains the dichotomy between why someone who shops at Target is willing to buy a Lexus.
Published on Jan. 7 2004 by Stormy
2.0 out of 5 stars shameless self promotion and no new news
this book is packed with (annoyingly repetitive) case studies that have appeared in business books for the last ten years. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2004 by Thomas Herbst
1.0 out of 5 stars All kinds of lousy
The smug, self-congratulatory writing style of these consultants cum authors is annoying to say the least. Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Work!
Silverstein & Fiske do a great job of explaining the apparent dichotomy of BMW's in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Chapter 3 is a great primer for how to market New Luxury. Read more
Published on Dec 8 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Some goods facts, but...
This book contains some good facts and reasonable articulation of a phenomenon we all feel is happening. However, the self congratulatory style is tiresome.
Published on Nov. 28 2003
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