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Raising the Bar

The new affordable impulse buy is all about the Benjamins.

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This story appears in the April 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Browse through retailer sales ads or walk down the aisles of a Target or a drugstore, and you may be surprised by how many items are being offered at or around the $100 mark. Suddenly, it seems like a myriad of self-pampering products are popping up to soothe us, entertain us and/or simplify our lives--all with much higher price tags than the previously accepted price of $19.99. Have consumers' attitudes shifted to make $100 the new affordable impulse buy?

Daniel Howard, chair of the marketing department at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business in Dallas and consumer research and behavior expert, says inflation is one factor in the rising costs of products. But he adds that, psychologically, consumers are also allowing price points to move upward, especially when it comes to gadgets. "Americans are fascinated and obsessed with technology-type goods and are willing to pay somewhat of a premium for technological ways of doing everyday tasks, even though many times the technological method of doing it is more difficult and arguably less efficient," Howard explains.

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