Monday, March 24, 2008

Trollbeads vs. Pandora :: Can't We All Just Get Along?

What is UP with the talk I hear about Pandora's latest so-called business initiative? Are they really trying to force retailers who sell Pandora to drop Trollbeads?!

Okay, folks. I'm taking off the gloves for this one. It's hand-to-hand combat now, and I haven't yet shared this ... but the time has now come.

Time for some serious Trollhound from-the-gut honesty. (Remember - you'll always get honesty at Trollhound.) See, generally speaking, I believe that your average person who hasn't yet succumbed to the dreaded, life-altering Bead Collector Syndrome (which I will lovingly call "BCS"), well, these people might actually (gasp!) say, "Who cares? What's the difference? A bead is a bead is a bead is a bead!"

The horror! The pain! Agony!!!

Well, as you might have come to expect, I'm going to express an opinion. While that little ditty ("a bead is a bead") might play out as somewhat true ... it's not actually true. Especially if you are talking about Trollbeads and Pandora beads. Or Trollbeads versus Pandora beads (which is just plain ridiculous - that "versus" thing). And, if you are like me, you even have a pretty doggone strong personal preference about which of those two company's products occupy most of the available space in/on your chains (or are responsible for those gaping holes in your bank account!).

My simple - yet very solid - belief is that there isn't really grounds for much comparison between the two companies.

Especially when you note that the products that you actually are able to buy from each company differs in a very vast way.

First, let's talk about glass.

Trollbeads' glass and Pandora's glass beads. Pandora's glass beads are ... pretty ... pretty boring. And limiting. If I've counted right, Pandora has an offering of less than 50 standard glass beads. Trollbeads' standard glass beads number around 150 ... and then they even release for public consumption (or for Trollhound's singular consumption!) an uncountable number of "Unique/One-of-a-Kind" ('OOAK") glass beads. These Unique/OOAK glass beads are almost always the most highly sought-after glass beads there are. They are sooooo cool (and MINE, if I find them first!)!

So let me remind you: this is my own opinion. I truly do find many of Pandora's metal beads (silver, gold, mixed) to be fabulously awesome! And, in spite of the fact that the wearer might be led to believe that there would be an all-out dog-fight on the bracelet, my beads seem to happily and peacefully coexist quite well ... right next to each other! And - grand shocker here! - I think they might even have become friends!!!

So, basically, I personally think Trollbeads glass beads just plain ROCK way above Pandora's glass beads. The end. Contest closed. And in turn, I will cheerfully give a highly-deserved nod towards Pandora's metal beads. I think that the metal beads are Pandora's brightest star ... and that, as a business mission, they should focus clearly and closely on that effort.

So, now I'm going to get to the real point of this posting.

I've been hearing A LOT of very unpleasant talk about Pandora and how they are becoming quite the little ... um, hmm... how do I put this? I got it! Whether they know it or not, they are now being viewed as the TOWN BULLY. It seems that they have begun to believe that they really are "all that." Well, they ain't.

I'm becoming concerned that, if we, as collectors of both Trollbeads and Pandora (and other brands), do not speak up, we might just find ourselves suddenly backed into a corner with icky beads being force-fed down our throats, while our wallets are gleefully raided by Pandora's wicked upper elite (who refer to themselves as "executive management").

What I am hearing is that PANDORA is actually forcing their retailers to DROP Trollbeads from their sales inventory. Meaning, close the account. As in telling their retailers something like, ''If you want to sell Pandora, well, nanny-nanny boo-boo, then you can't sell Trollbeads. And if you defy us, we'll go out and find some other retailer local to you, and we'll set up an account with them just so that we can promote them over you and cause you to have wasted all that $20M that you invested in our beads when you decided to become a Pandora retailer." (Okay, so I'm exaggerating that $20M thing, but you get the point.)

Now that just doesn't sound very nice, does it? Sounds like a kindergarten slapping contest to me.

From what I've seen, it appears that Pandora's leadership has begun to indulge in too much of their own self-generated hype. And with that over-inflated, puffed-chest, huge-market share, ego-lead belief, they now seem to be pointing themselves down that seductive path that always has a pretty front picture and a horrendous outcome.

I sense a very painful lesson of "suffering the consequences of your own actions or misdeeds" approaching.

Yo! Pandora!! Yoooo hooo!!!? Are you listening??? This is important, and I truly wish that Pandora's leadership would pay attention to the shouts of customers: CAPITALIZING ON MARKET SHARE DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO ABOLISH, DESTROY or STOMP ALL OVER YOUR "COMPETITION."

That is disgusting and repulsive. If they subscribe to that as a base of their business practice, how could any upstanding person keep wanting to do business with them?

One of life's best lessons is that competition that makes you better. If competition is gone, where's the motivation to improve on your own product? If you believe you are perfect, where do you go from there? Nowhere. And then we, as the customer, would suffer from the lack of innovation that is often spurred by competition.

THIS is where I believe that Pandora now is. And I feel that, as a company, they are on the very edge of making a very fatal turn. As a customer, I can honestly say that, if they jump into that pit of self-serving notoriety, stepping all over companies like Trollbeads (and any other bead companies) in the process, well, I think that they will suddenly and painfully find themselves neck-deep in quicksand. If that happens, I, for one, will not be throwing a rope or shedding any tears.

If you have no enemies, then it can be said that you consider no one to be your friend; if you have no friends ... you have nothing. If you have no customers ... you have no business.

I ask all fans of Trollbeads, Pandora, Biagi, Chamilia (or whatever your "bead of choice" might be) to stand together and let Pandora know that this is unacceptable. We all want to make our own choices, make our own decisions, and buy whatever the heck we want!!

This is a mess, and I fear that it ultimately may prove to be a business plan that will cause pain, frustration and irritation to all bead collectors. As customers, do we really want to support a company that disregards the fact that we like having the freedom of choice?

I am capable of making my own choices - and flat-out possessive of my right to do so. I don't want ANY company dictating what style I buy, what retailer I buy from, or what brand I buy. If Pandora keeps playing childish kindergarten sandbox games, I will refuse to spend any more money on their products.

Integrity matters more to me than any product. Everyone wants a choice, and we have fought long and hard to be graced with the options of making choices.

If Pandora chooses to take away our right to choose, by essentially eliminating their perceived competition, aren't the customers the ones who will actually suffer? Do you want to support that?

I suggest that, if Pandora wants to win over more customers, they should follow a typical and respectable success-drive business plan: make a better, more appealing product.

Why don't you go ahead and send an email to the "head-dude" at Pandora? Let them know how you feel about Pandora messing with your right to choose and trying to force Trollbeads out of business.


csdennison said...

Hey its the bellydancer - so I wrote an email to Pandora. This is what I said:

Please tell me that what I am hearing is incorrect? Are you asking all your retailers to make a choice between you and your competitors as far as exclusively only selling your product?

I have to say that if it wasn't for the retailers having the choices I probably would have never considered purchasing your jewelry, but you had a few things that I liked and when I was alerted that they would be discontinued I decided to invest in a full bracelet. If I hadn't received the marketing retailer emails I probably would have continued purchasing from my first choice.

So that is my point, if what I hear is true, please keep in mind that people like to have choices and not to be saturated with just one thing. As humans we get bored very easily and we need change to liven thing up. I am sure your revenue will continue flowing if you keep remaining a good sport to your charm bracelet creating neighbors.

You Like?

awesomevegan said...

Love the post :) I just got my new (and first) Trollbead bracelet yesterday thanks to my lovely boyfriend. I agree with you about the Trollbeads having the glass catergory won! I only have one bead so far and its a Troll OOAK. It is so pretty that I couldn't imagine starting my bracelet with any other bead.
The Pandora has pretty metal ones however . I like Pandora's special occasion beads like the birthday cake and baby stroller and also many of their animals. There is no reason why the companies cannot peacefully coexist.
The shop I got my bracelet from said they are weeding out the Pandora and keeping the Troll and bringing in a new one called lovelinks. They are just as pretty as Pandora's glass (if not more so)

Beth Singleton said...

I'm a bead geek. I love all beads. I have Pandora, Troll and Chamilia bracelets and beads from both as well.

I also make glass silver core beads and mix those in with my silver Pandora, Troll and Chamilia beads.

I agree, those of us with BCS should be able to all get along. Collecting beads is an obsession and each brand has much to offer.

Anonymous said...

To me Troll Beads far outstrip Pandora Beads artistically and aesthetically. Troll Beads offer a more sophisticate design with meaning behind each bead. Pandora Beads are pretty enough, but I can buy a bracelet ready made that is merely pretty. Therefore, if Pandora were to force out Troll Beads, I would just keep the Troll Beads I have and stop collecting beads.

However, I think both beads appeal to different demographics so there should be room for both to be sold in different types of stores that attract different types of customers. I guess it's up to the store owners to know their target customers and choose accordingly.