At the Fringe: Stories from Davos (4) – Why the Swiss Army Knife has the same price all over Switzerland

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Zurich: the 7th most expensive city in the world. Davos: not even on the list. The two cities seem to have barely comparable prices – but not for all the goods you may want to bring back home with you. You will probably be looking for the very famous “Swiss made” goods – and, even more likely, for Swiss army knives. If you choose to compare prices, you can be sure: it is just a waste of time.

Prices do not differ between different shops in Switzerland. Is it just the matter of this knife being a symbol of a country? Is it the matter of the shops willing to have as much profit as possible? The owner of a shop, licensed to sell “Victorinox” knives in Davos assures us: “I am 200% sure that there is no possible way you would pay more (or less) than 15 Swiss Francs for a classic model of this knife – and it does not matter if you buy it in the most or least expensive city of Switzerland.” And this happens to be a result of a branding strategy that the manufacturer has chosen years ago. “The company itself is interested in making their customers satisfied both with the product and the value for the price they get. It should not matter where the client bought his best companion”.

Symbol of "Swiss Made" Quality: The Victorinox Army Knife

Wikimedia Commons

Symbol of "Swiss Made" Quality: The Victorinox Army Knife

Of course, the knife itself is not cheap, and locals sometimes joke that “the cheapest way to get this knife is to join the Swiss army”. Another option would be to go to a different country – for example, in Lithuania, for the very same knife you would pay 13 Swiss Francs. In New York, the price would reach 19 Francs, whereas London you would find in the middle – 17 Francs. “Victorinox has different pricing strategies for different countries, that’s why”, the owner of the shop explains.

Different living standards, different prices – this seems legit enough. Is it the humanity that made “Victorinox” think of the possibility to make their prices diverse between countries, not cities? The owner of a shop just shrug his shoulders – the answer is yet to be found.

2 thoughts on “At the Fringe: Stories from Davos (4) – Why the Swiss Army Knife has the same price all over Switzerland

  1. Thank you for the interesting article. Your readers might be interested to know that, although Victorinox knives have been around for over a century, the name “Swiss Army Knife” originated in WWII. US Army troops found a Victorinox on virtually every German soldier they killed or captured during the War, and at war’s end soldiers bought huge quantities of the knives for souvenirs at Army PX stores. The German name for the knives “Schweizer Offiziermessers,” was too difficult to pronounce, so they just called them “Swiss Army Knives.” The name obviously stuck. And the rest is history.

    • Dear Steve, thank you for the nice words, and especially for explaining of the origin of its name – I think the history of these knives is another story worth telling!

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