• 10.14.13

The No-Discount Club: Four Companies Doubling Down on Mark-Downs

Ron Johnson ended JCPenney’s markdowns–and then customers fled, and Johnson was fired. Only a few companies have successfully braved the world of always-full-price. Author Mark Ellwood details them in his new book, Bargain Fever (available on Amazon at a 35% discount).

The No-Discount Club: Four Companies Doubling Down on Mark-Downs
[Illustrations by Vladan Milisavljevic]

The Upseller

The coffee machines only work with specially designed single-serve pods. Buy a machine and Nespresso’s “anti-telemarketers”–who are part of a customer service team that makes up half the company–will check in regularly, reminding you to reorder.


The Inviter


Apple spends $200 per square foot to outfit its stores, then lets customers play with merchandise for as long as they want. The pleasanter the store, the longer they’ll stay, and the more time they’ll have to fall in love.

The Supplier

Louis Vuitton


Louis owns its own factories, enabling it to maintain a brisk production lead time: Items are turned around in just six weeks, compared to the customary 34 for most luxury brands, so big spenders stay well supplied.

The Maintainer

American Girl
With few exceptions, all the dolls look basically the same. Evergreen stock means the toys never go out of fashion, and interchangeable parts keep production streamlined.

About the author

Iona, an editorial intern at Fast Company, is into Crossfit, snark, maintaining her Scottish accent, and writing on her design blog. She's a Syracuse grad, All-American field hockey player, temporary U.S.