Revisiting this month’s Christian Marketplace, I was encouraged to see Jonathan Brown, Kingsway’s Business Development Director, responding to Robin Henderson’s questions about Christian CD prices in the Letters section (p.4, April & May issues).
Whilst I acknowledge what Jonathan says about economy of scale and appreciate the huge investment Kingsway makes in supporting its artists and their products — and applaud Kingsway’s commitment to continued monitoring and reviewing of their prices — Jonathan’s observations seem to raise more questions than they answer:
It really is about economy of scale along with people’s perception to CD retail prices, which is driven by The UK’s Top 40 and more importantly supermarket pricing. Supermarkets continue to use CDs and entertainment product as a loss leader and to drive footfall.
Jonathan is undoubtedly right in his observations about the supermarkets — except that in our sector of the marketplace, it’s not usually the supermarkets we’re competing with: how often do you see Kingsway or other Christian label CDs on sale in UK supermarkets? The odd one might break through from time to time, but they’re few and far between.
So who is driving the public’s perception of Christian CD prices? Amongst others, Kingsway themselves: in this very same issue of Christian Marketplace, we have a three-page feature introducing Graham Kendrick’s new album, The Very Best of Graham Kendrick: Knowing You Jesus along with a half-page ad telling us (and any of our customers who happen to be reading) it’s “available from kingswayshop.com”.
The feature gives the price as £12.99 — but when we visit kingswayshop.com we find it listed as “Our Price: £10.99, RRP: £14.99 (You save 27%)”. Whose price, sorry? Kingway’s. Whose RRP? Kingsway’s. And that 27% discount is only a slim margin off their standard trade discount.
I’ll run through that again: Kingsway set the RRP at £14.99 then say “Our Price: £10.99” — and it’s not just the new Kendrick album, it seems to be almost every album Kingsway produce: Kingway’s Price v/s Kingsway’s Price.
Having to compete with our own suppliers is nothing new, of course, but it does seem a tad disingenuous of Kingsway to argue that the supermarkets are driving the public’s perception of CD prices — and running loss leaders to drive footfall — when Kingsway are doing the self-same thing with their own products and their own shop.
Kingsway are not alone in driving the public perception of Christian music prices down, of course: the Kendrick article is supported by another half-page ad, one that we’re all well-used to: Cross Rhythms, offering the new Kendrick album for £9.97, their regular CD price.
But competing with another retailer, even one as prominent as Cross Rhythms, is a different ball game to competing with a publisher slashing their own prices in order to attract direct sales. If £14.99 is Kingsway’s “Recommended Retail Price” on what basis is that recommendation made? And on what basis do Kingsway disregard their own recommendation?
No: the RRPs with which we must compete are the Real Retail Prices: the actual prices at which Kingsway sell their products direct to consumer — which surely reflect their true value? Or are we to believe that Kingsway are running loss leaders on their entire product range?
The good news, however: Kingsway have extended their offer of free carriage on all UK trade orders to the end of May. My thanks to Kingsway for this and to James Batterbee for clarifying this point.
I have invited Jonathan to respond…
Some Related Discussions (most recent first)
- The Most Unchristian Marketing in the World, Ever? David Keen, St Aidan to Abbey Manor, 15/04/2010
- What price r.r.p.? Steph Bateson, Book Buying Manager for Asda, The Bookseller – Blogs, 28/08/2009
- Waterstone’s raises book prices Victoria Gallagher, The Bookseller – News, 17/05/2009