Can Dyson really get people to pay $400 for a hair dryer


How much would you pay for a hair dryer? Dyson, maker of the “new and different” sort of vacuum, is betting the price could be as much at $400. Yes, seriously. A hair dryer that costs as much as a lawnmower or a mobile tablet.

Dubbed the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer, the British company launched its product line in the U.S. last week. According to the news release, the product will be available in high-end stores including Sephora … possibly other retailers sometime in October.

Can Dyson really get people to pay $400 for a hair dryerSo far, the initial consumer reaction has been “huh?” A recent article in CNN attempted to unpack Dyson’s justification for the high price tag. This missive started out as strong PR statement but drifted into less praising commentary toward the end.

According to the article, Dyson invested at least $67 million developing the product. Design and development time took about 100 engineers about four years to complete. Now ready for the public, Dyson owns more than 100 pending patents on what they are calling the dryer that will revolutionize hairdryers in the same way their vacuums revolutionized sweepers. Among the colorful language employed in Dyson’s release, a statement about the hairdryer’s “intelligent heat control,” a system promising to keep the unit from overheating or damaging hair.

To date, users have one major compliment. It’s much quieter than most of the competition. Dyson explains this as a result of the enhanced design and equipment as well as motor placement, in the handle, not the head.

In its review, CNN called the unit “impressive” and “sleek and sophisticated” … something that “looks different, sounds different, and works different” … and is “beautifully packaged.”

But will all the presentation be enough to justify a car payment price tag? That question is yet to be answered. But Dyson’s not worried. The company knows its clientele. Many folks are not willing to pay “so much” for vacuum cleaners, but more than enough are doing so to keep the company flush. It’s this exclusivity that offers Dyson its most powerful PR tool. People want it because it’s an impressive gadget or Just Because They Can … everything else is icing on the cake.

Chris Burch is a venture capitalist and founder of Burch Creative Capital.

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