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That Crazy Bamboo Pillow Pricing…

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The other day I was in BJ's Warehouse with my wife stocking up on groceries. If you aren't familiar with BJ's it is similar to any warehouse club you might familiar with such as Costco or Sam's Club. It's big in New England where I live.

There was a person demonstrating pillows with Bamboo branding on them. They were super comfortable. He asked if we were familiar with their competitor Tempur-Pedic. Of course we were. I told him that I use a viscoelastic pillow today... that's the generic name for the "memory foam" that Tempur-Pedic is best known for.

It was explained to me that Bamboo pillows are that material, just ripped up into smaller pieces. To be honest, I tuned out much of what he was saying, because I wasn't in the market for a new pillow. My wife tried it out, but she's a traditional down girl. I knew he wasn't likely to make a sale, but I asked him how much the pillows were anyway. It seemed like a natural question, because the price wasn't listed anywhere.

He pulled out a piece of cardboard that showed the deal. He was offering three pillows and a travel case for $85... a savings of $212 (I'm using my memory, but 98% sure of that). Well that does seem like a good deal, doesn't it? Any Sunday I can save $212, I'm all over it, right? It was his last day at the location and he wouldn't be back for months, so this was a limited-time deal.

Do you think I bought the pillows? Regular readers are laughing at that question. Of course not! I went along with our shopping plan as usual.

It wasn't until later that night, I thought, "I wonder what Amazon is selling those pillows for." So I looked it up. And that's when the story got interesting. Check them out: Original Bamboo Pillow with Adaptive Memory Foam

As I write this article (days after I first looked it up), Bamboo Pillows are still $20 a pillow. That's even cheaper than the BJ's Warehouse price, presuming that I don't put a $25 value on the carrying case. What's most striking about the price on Amazon is that the $20 sale price represents a savings of 88% over the crossed out price of $170.

As I mentioned before, I'm all for saving money, but when it is this extreme, I have the opposite reaction. I think to myself, what is going on here? Is the $20 price really a deal or was the $170 price a rip-off? Usually, I side with more of the later, especially when I can find it cheap it at multiple retailers. The "limited-time" deal from the BJ's Warehouse presenter may have been sincere, but I viewed it as an additional red flag on the pricing.

At the end of the day, the pillow gets decent reviews on Amazon, presumably for some price in the $20-170 range. The recent reviews are good, which I think are more likely to be in the $20-range. I know I wouldn't pay $100 or more for the pillow, but at $20 it rivals the pricing of the off-brand viscoelastic pillow that I have.

If I had to give advice to retailers out there, I'd say, pick a market and stick with it. If you are selling a premium priced product and you think you've got the goods to justify it, don't put it on fire sale. If you have a product that you can make decent profit at a $20 price-point, you probably don't have a premium product that justifies the extreme pricing in the first place.

Those kind of margins are just not seen in too many markets. You can bet that someone else will create a similar product with slightly less margins to make the money themselves.

Last updated on June 2, 2015.

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5 Responses to “That Crazy Bamboo Pillow Pricing…”

  1. Big-D says:

    Believe it or not, the high MSRP, low price thing is a valid strategy for marketing and sales. Lots of companies do it. I agree with you that you are just playing games with people, and more *ahem* enlightened individuals will be skeptical, however it does get a lot of people to buy stuff. Especially if it is cheap enough. Call it the QVC effect.

    In my MBA classes, we spent an entire lecture on MSRP manipulation. It was a great topic if you ever want to learn about why companies do what they do with prices and strategy.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    I can definitely see MSRP manipulation at a certain level. It will get me when I see something 25-50% off. It’s the extreme case of 85-95% off with no extenuating circumstance (not clearance rack, not going out of business, etc.) that got my attention for this article.

  3. Nate M. says:

    Very interesting read. I haven’t come across any extreme pricing like this (that I know of), but I am not surprised retailers do it. It again proves even for the little things, it is better to do your research first.

  4. Justin says:

    I know that a great mattress and pillow can make SUCH a difference in a good night’s sleep. When I’m rested, I’m so much more capable of getting through the day

  5. Justin says:

    I like the honesty and oddball details in your review, haha. I’m kinda strange with my pillows – I’ve had my current one about 4 years now because I’ve never found another that matches it’s particular feel.
    I highly dislike memory foam pillows because I like a different level of firmness every night. This causes me to bunch my pillow sometimes so all the filling is towards the middle and feels firmer, or fluff it and let the filling spread out with the weight of my head to feel softer. Generally, I don’t mind if the filling feels lumpy as long as they aren’t the hard lumps like you get after washing and drying most pillows a few times (which I haven’t done with this one since I use a zipped dust case plus pillow case)
    So, that being said, how would you describe the lumps? Can’t say I’ve ever felt lumpy flour… but I’d assume it’s softer than the traditional cheap and crappy lumpy pillow, right? And does it seem to smooth out at all with the weight of your head or does it remain lumpy? Do you think after using it for a while it might be good for someone who likes forming their pillow a little differently every night?

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