The same general principles apply at LULU, TSLA, SBUX and WFM.
These companies can aggressively maintain premium pricing because:
They know their relatively affluent markets and do such a tremendous job connecting with them.
They make smart real estate decisions, placing stores where this affluence hangs its hat (and/or vacations!).
They provide unique in-store environments.
They have exclusive or semi-exclusive premium products that tap into consumer psychology and/or are really better than the rest. It's a powerful blend of perception and reality.
LULU should not be able to sell $150-$200 yoga apparel. Sure, it's well-made, but it's all psychological. There's lots of well-made yoga apparel out there at more "reasonable" prices.
Tesla doesn't just have an electric car, it has one that's faster than a freaking
car of the year.
Starbucks can charge relatively absurd amounts of dollar bills for a cup of coffee -- and really ding you with the add-ons -- because it provides all types of cool experiences -- from its well-known in-store vibe to its
emerging mobile traffic push and presence
Whole Foods might be the best example. We like to think it
shed its "Whole Paycheck" image
, but that's all perception.
I started going to Whole Foods more frequently when it made an aggressive push with its "Everyday 365" value line. This strategy really did result in lower prices on key items throughout the store. But, again, it's so psychological.
Unless you're ultra-disciplined and go grocery shopping after overeating on Thanksgiving, your total bill at checkout is as big as, if not bigger than it ever was thanks to high-margin items ranging from wine to cheese to candy to hummus.
These are the companies that own the upper-mid to high-end consumers that matter. They rule mindshare more than they do marketshare.
The only name I might hold back on buying into 2013 is TSLA. The others will blow out their respective holiday quarters.
At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.