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4/6/08

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Factual But Not Truthful Marketing

ELMAR

September 12, 2005

Dear Fellow Professors:

For the first time I have offered my marketing students the choices of purchasing the current edition of the course textbook from the campus bookstore or from an outlet like amazon.com for $141.95. My students also have the option of purchasing the previous edition of the textbook which sells for $6.41 on Amazon.

A look at both the current and previous editions would find almost no change in the actual marketing content. A colleague asked me if this is a case of price skimming by textbook companies. I believe that price skimming occurs when a new product comes out first at a high price. The price moves lower as the sales of the product can no longer be maintained at the higher price. A new and different product then comes forth to replace the old product.

I think the above textbook example may be closer to the new model year for cars and the dating of foods and drugs. I do not know if there is a marketing term for changing the date of essentially the same product without real improvements or additional safety features. The same product with the new date is then sold for a great deal while the cost and perceived value of the earlier dates moves toward zero.

May I suggest that marketing textbooks should be monitored by all professors. When we believe a new textbook edition does not warrant the high cost to our students we should give students the option of using an earlier edition.

I would propose a term for this marketing activity "factual but not truthful marketing." I would define this to be when marketing selects a small part of a story that leads the customer to make a purchase decision. If the whole story of the product or service were available to the customer the purchase would not be made. DM