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Ben, Jerry and Me

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I just spent a lovely weekend in Vermont with my family. Naturally, we visited the Ben & Jerry's mothership in Waterbury. It was well worth the break from leaf-peeping.

Every good member of a capitalist society is taught at the knee that goods are priced at what the market will bear. We've all heard that phrase time and again - what the market will bear. In other words, charge as high as you can provided that you can get away with it from your customers.

Right?

Thank goodness, Ben & Jerry didn't get that memo or at least had the wisdom to blow it off this time.

Yes, those little pints of sinfully good ice cream cost about the tipping point of what I can bear. But, I was impressed to find the price of the factory tour was $3 an adult, $2 for seniors and free for kids under 12. The four color printing on the high end finished tour tickets probably cost more than the $6 it cost for my family of four to enter. Clearly, this is a loss leader. Yes, they make money on T-shirts and other colorful dairy-ware. But after years of paying $4 for a pint of Chunky Monkey, Ben & Jerry cut me a break.

And, I appreciate it.

After driving up from two states away with two kids in tow that would not have handled well walking away from Ben & Jerry's without the tour; honestly, I would have paid a lot more than $3 an adult for the price of admission. I suspect Ben & Jerry know that and yet they undercharge. The question is why.

The cynical answer: it buys good will so that I will buy even more $4 pints of Chunky Monkey in the future.

The not-so-cynical answer: it buys good will so that I will buy even more $4 pints of Chunky Monkey in the future.

What's wrong with buying good will? $3 a ticket for me and free admission for my kids felt like a "thank you" for all the years of buying their ice cream. It felt like a "thank you" for coming all the way to Vermont to visit.

And the next time, I am wandering through the frozen food section at my grocery store you can bet I'll say "you're welcome".

Sometimes it pays to not charge what the market will bear.

Last updated: Oct 12, 2010




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