Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What's the point?

It's the mark of a good wordsmith to be able to say a lot in just a few words.  This is why I am not a good wordsmith, because I do go on and on and on. But at least I try to avoid talking or writing or texting or semaphoring in jargon such as...

"The price point on this car is just over 29K."

This means that the price of the car in question is over $29,000.  This price point business - it's cropping up all over the place. People are saying it in automobile showrooms, real estate offices, and a woman showing a line of cosmetics used it the other morning on "Good Morning America." 

At first I thought, maybe I missed something, and this term means something more than just the word "price." Or, maybe there was a new beach down in Southern Maryland called Price Point.  I didn't know, so I went to Wikipedia and found a scholarly treatise about it:

Price points are prices at which demand for a given product is supposed to stay relatively high.
Introductory microeconomics depicts a demand curve as downward-sloping to the right and either linear or gently convex to the origin. The downwards slope generally holds, but the model of the curve is only piecewise true, as price surveys indicate that demand for a product is not a linear function of its price and not even a smooth function. Demand curves resemble a series of waves rather than a straight line.

They even had a little graph to illustrate this point, but frankly, you and I know exactly what that paragraph meant, don't we?  I mean, from our deep involvement in introductory microeconomics, we know that the downward slope generally holds, and also that the knee bone is connected to the shin bone.

So I called a lifeline and asked a buddy just what the dickens all that meant.  Speaking very slowly and carefully, as he would when reminding a nine-year-old not to stick a fork into an electrical outlet, he told me that it's all about how much a seller can raise the price before people stop shelling out for what they're selling.  As in, I notice that Breyer's Ice Cream is now as much as $6.19 for what's not even a half-gallon any longer.  And yet, at this very moment, cows are being milked and that cream is being churned and vanilla farmers are hauling beans to market and the nation's fudge mines are being stripmined because people will pay $6.19 for a carton of Vanilla Fudge Chunk.

That's your price point, right there.  If they try to get $6.49 for the ice cream, people might switch to Blue Bunny or Hershey's, leaving Breyer's out in the cold, so to speak.

Our friends over at the Urban Dictionary, far less prolix, define price point as "BS talk for price... to emphasize a limited vocabulary." 

Remember, we all might wind up like Eddie Murphy in that movie he has coming out in which he is limited to a certain amount of words before he kicks the bucket.  Save your words!  Don't call a store a "brick-and-mortar store," or the guy who brings the mail to your office an "information promulgator"!

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