Oculus Rift price silence ‘will turn negative consumer energy into cash’

Ben Parfitt
Oculus Rift price silence ‘will turn negative consumer energy into cash’

An American marketing specialist has said Facebook got it spot on about keeping quiet about the true heft of the Oculus Rift's price tag.

Until Wednesday Oculus has suggested various RRPs for the device ranging between $200 and north of $350. As a result, the actual RRP of $599 came as a shock.

I believe it was all a brilliant Zuckerbergian machination,” Shanken Creative Group's Adam Ghahramani said on VentureBeat.

He claims that Oculus had three options. The first was to reveal the price early, getting any negativity out of the way for launch day. By revealing a high price ahead of time, you'll be at the mercy of the competition,” he argued. HTC and Sony will consult their accountants and spoil first-day sales by announcing a lower price for their upcoming headsets. Sony has done this twice before.”

The second would be to leak a higher price, maybe $700, so the actual price would be less of a shock. Typically this would be the most advisable tactic, Ghahramani adds, although ultimately he applauds Facebook's choice for a third way.

Staying silent and not calibrating expectations is a Dark Side manoeuvre that turns negative customer energy into cash,” he insisted. Silence means that the maximum number of people will show up to your pre-order event, regardless of their budget.

Silence means that everyone who shows up will be emotionally invested in buying a Rift. Had you hinted at a higher price earlier, some might have taken a ‘wait and see' approach instead of staying up all night to watch VR videos on YouTube. Silence means you won't give people time to think. Day one orders are fuelled by adrenaline.

Silence means a firestorm of negative PR. But it's positive, negative PR. ‘Hey everyone! This cutting-edge product I really wanted is more expensive than I thought it would be!' Oh no, please, say anything but that! Don't worry, silence is quickly forgiven.”

Is the old adage of there's no such thing as negative publicity” really true, however?

Just before Christmas MCV was told by a retailer that even now it still gets customers proclaiming that Xbox One won't run pre-owned games – a policy that was abandoned just weeks after it proposed and long before the console was ever released. But the negative storm of publicity that surrounded E3 2013 still haunts the machine, undermining what was a strong 2015 in terms of software exclusives and console updates.

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