Sunday, July 10, 2005

Some History on Price Tags

For many years now, I have had an interest in the history of pricing. Sometimes one can be amazed by how long a pricing strategy or tactic has been in use.

To give you one example, as far as I can ascertain, the advance purchase of tickets has been around at least since 1729, when the British Museum in London started selling tickets in advance.

Between 1869 and 1872 the Bon Marche Department store in Paris implemented two radical changes in retailing: it pulled inventory out from behind counters and put it on display for shoppers to inspect, and it put price tags on its products. Prior to this, and as far back as the first evidence of auctions in 500BC, how well one haggled generally determined the price a customer paid for a product or service.

So in the overall scheme of things, price tags have really only been with us from around 140 years. And a story in last Sunday's Washington Post by Mimi Harrison Price-Tag Fasteners, Hanging on since '64 traces the origin of those ubiquious plastic fasterners that are commonly used to attach price tags to various products and services.