Monday, July 6, 2009

Brand Power! Can we afford not to?

I'm kind of particular when shopping for certain items, especially grooming aids. And if the stores I am shopping in don't have the product I need, I will go elsewhere instead of buying something else. Call me fussy if you like, (anything else you can keep to yourself) but I like what I like. Besides, they match. As you can see from the above photo, they are all Gillette products as well. Except for the Colgate Toothpaste, (also blue) which leaves my mouth minty fresh and my favourite smelly stuff from Yves Saint Laurent. Which, of course, attracts every insect on God's green earth. You ever try making a putt for bogey with gnats swirling around your head; not fun. And just so you know, I didn't even get paid to push this stuff. Imagine! These are and have been my preference for years. I'm pretty consistent in similar type purchases as well.

I seldom, if ever, change brands of anything for that matter. Whether it be laundry detergent, dish soap, bleach or any of the other number of household cleaning products one is forced to buy throughout the year. Don't ask me why, I'm just a stickler to such things. It makes it easier to remember when I do have to buy these items. If I were smart, I would be looking for more Green Friendly products and perhaps I will, one day. But the bottom line here is, why do I, or shall I say we, get into such habits? For me, at least, it took years of product experimentation. I kept turning over products of all kinds until I found the ones that actually delivered what they said they would. Not an easy task I dare say. With all of the advertisements on television, magazines and stores it's enough to make you go berserk while standing in front of aisles of various products trying to recall who promised what.

After awhile, I began to settle on those products that not only offered consistency but delivered on them as well. One of the things that also impressed me was that the prices were pretty stable as well. No doubt to all of the competition out there. And today, with the way things are, we are all trying to get the best bang for our buck. This works out in many other areas as well. When I was younger, I bought things that I could afford only to find that I had to replace them a lot quicker. Over time, I would pick and choose certain brand items that would wash better and wear longer. I would rather spend a premium dollar now knowing that my purchases would last a little bit longer. And now, with the increased influx of cheaper product coming in from various overseas countries (how's that for political correctness), all we are doing is ensuring our landfill sites will be in business for years to come.

Think about this for a moment. How many young adults out there are getting ready to spread their wings and start life out there on their own? How many are going off to university or college? Not all are going to leave home fully equipped with all of the necessary appliances and such to set up home. So, it's off to the nearest low cost store to buy what will work for the time being. But of course, they buy what they can afford which will last less than the price tag they pay for it. Then that goes out to the dump and another replaces the old. This gets repeated over and over again. All you need to do to see proof is to swing buy any universities student housing during semester turnovers and witness the piles of junk on the front lawns waiting to be carted to the dump. The sad thing is, there is another group right there ready to take their place and on it goes.

Half of the stuff you see in stores now is made mostly out of plastic, cheap steel and inferior electronics. These products require very little in the way of advertising and marketing because the big box stores already know who they are catering to. And once the sale is made, they also know that it is only a matter of time before the customer comes back to replace it. People have come to accept this as a necessary evil to living in todays world. In a way, who can blame them especially if they are sending more than one child off to university. Nowadays you really have to look at the small print on the packaging to find out where a product is actually made. Sometimes it says, packaged in Canada or the US but it is made or assembled elsewhere. What kind of crap is that? Before I buy anything now, I want to know more about the guts of the product. I don't want to find out later that I have to send it to Timbuktu for replacement parts. Quality, it seems, is only a word on a Mission Statement and becoming harder to find than Waldo. That is why when I find a product I am happy with, it means the company has proven it's worth and commitment to me, the consumer. When we find something that works, I think it's best that we should just stick to it. We, as a society, often times spend money freely but not always wisely. I think we should reverse that and start spending it wisely and not so freely.


Anonymous said...

I also tend to stick with brands that I know and like, but I must say Bogey, I have yet to go so far as to color coordinate them ;)

Yes, consumerism is for sure a vicious circle. You used the example of universtity students, but I think of all lower income people. I often think how sad it is that the people who can least afford to, end up spending the most money of material possessions simply because they have to replace their purchases so often. It is really sad!
Great, thought provoking post.

Amel's Realm said...

Interesting read. Before I got any unemployment benefit and before hubby found a job, I had to find the cheapest of everything: soap, lotion, detergent...I even had to go to flea markets to find myself cheap clothes 'coz we didn't have enough budget to buy new clothes (I did buy some new ones, but I also bought many used ones).

Funny thing is that 'coz of the economical crisis...I find that the discounted items from the stores (the cheapest kinds) don't last as long as the used clothes that I found in the flea markets. I guess those clothes were really quality clothes when they were new he he he...:-))) That's one reason I love flea markets! You'll never know what gem you'll find. :-D

Anyway, I'm off topic...but I agree with you on quality. In Indo the problem has been there for a LONG LONG time. We had to really do a tight survey before buying anything so that the product would last long and it would be according to our budget.

smiles4u said...

Interesting. Yes, I too, have certain products that I am stuck on and it is a habit for me to buy them.

I agree that products made now day's are cheaply made and that it is much better to spend more and get something better that will last much longer and save money in the long run. The thing is many people just don't have the resources to do this. They have wantever money they have in front of them and that is what they have to work from. I get this...been there and done that. But, I also know that you can break out of that cycle through planning, hard work and sacrafice...and very likely some help.

Over the years I learned how to be wise with what ever money I had, no matter how little it was. I learned to be frugal and to be wise with where it went. I learned to take good care of what I had so it would last. I learned to live within my means and that included learning to get the most out of what money I had.

Part of learning all of this was being resourceful. I am very big on recycling(not just cans, glass, plastic..ect)of what we can no longer use and passing it on to someone else that can use it, if it's in perfectly good shape and working condition. I will shop garage sales and second hand stores for everything. If I can buy it used and in good condtion, I will do that before buying it new. Living this way is my normal.

It does not feel weird to wear clothes that I got second hand. It does not make me feel "poor" or less then others that don't. Nor does it make me better then someone that won't do this. I've just done it for so long, for myself and my children(and yes my present husband does this too :) Very seldom do I buy new, just because I have found that I can get really well made and almost new clothing for almost nothing. This beats buying a cheap outfit that will not last because it was so cheaply made. I almost feel guilty for getting such good deals on clothes that no one would guess came to me used.

I am this way with pretty much, kitchen items, toys, books...ect. This doesn't mean that I don't ever buy new but it does mean that I think twice about where I spend my money and the quality of what I am putting my money into.

I do think more and more people are starting to realize that they can't keep living like they do. I think our economy is pushing people to start taking a look at the things you write about here. Great post!

Winifred said...

I really enjoyed this post. Very thought provoking.

I tend to change products not always through choice mainly because the manufactureres keep changing them. I saw a programme recently that said if the products didn't evolve the brand dies!

I do find that most of my clothes come from Marks & Spencer partly through habit and partly because I always find what I want there. Sadly very little of their stuff is produced in the UK now and in the past they used this fact to advertise their stuff.

I recycle my clothes through charity shops.

I don't always find that buying an expensive electrical product ensures it lasts. The worst washing machine I bought was also the most expensive. It was German, didn't last 3 years and couldn't be repaired unless I paid almost as much as the initial cost.

I was born during the war so was used to the make do and mend approach to life. Recycling and composting still figure large in my life. Sadly we live in a throwaway age and cars are probably the biggest example of that. After polluting the environment in their lifetime, they continue afterwards too.

ms toast burner said...


Bogey's Personal Hygiene Arsenal.

And I thought that I was weird for taking a similar pic of the contents of a tool box! ;-)

James said...

Hi Bogey, I stick with certain brands on lots of things but on some I don't care. I agree about spending money wisely even though at times I do splurge. The reason that I can splurge at times is because for years I've saved and lived within my means never taking on debt.
Great post as always!

lakeviewer said...

Bogey, you got a whole conversation going here, with lots of food for thought. Most of us are creatures of habit; when necessary to change, we'll look at alternatives.

Bogey said...

Audrey, you can credit the color coordination to Gillette. Besides, it makes it easier for me to shop, all I have to remember is to buy all the Blue stuff. I hear you in regards to people who can least afford it. They are literally stuck buying things that they know will need to be replaced in a short time. They are doing what they have to do to survive, it's the box stores that think they are doing us a favour.

Amel, we are finding more and more stores which deal in slightly used clothing and other items. There is obviously a market out there and it's good to know those services are available to everybody.

Lori, your comment is the exact response the CEO's of these stores are looking for. They know that if people do not care for their products, they are doomed to spend more money buying similar products over and over again continuously lining their pockets. Personally, I do not think people spend their hard earned money to wilfully throw it away. Conscientous people, such as yourself, who are trying to teach their children the value of a dollar and money well spent is the only way that will eventually make a difference.

Winnifred, I do remember when Marks & Spencer had a certain prestige about them. There stores now, no longer resemble what they used to that's for sure. As for the everchanging product, all marketers do is put "New and Improved" on the lable and people bite like fish on a hook.

Glad I can make you laugh Marnie! Weird huh.....

James, living within ones means is a lost art. Competing with the Jones' seems to have regained it's popularity...with a vengeance. Credit card companies throw cards at people, car dealerships offer you "bottom" rate deals and many young people want it all now. Not over years but within one year. Mind boggling isn't it.

Rosaria, it does seem to have struck a few cords though hasn't it. Change is inevitable. The question is will we be able to make those changes if necessary?

Lori ann said...

Hi Bogey,

I started reading labels when I became a mother 29 years ago. It was alot harder then than it is now to find products that don't have harmful ingredients in them (petrolatum, mineral oil, sulfates,parabens...). But it can take time and usually cost more. I guess I've always looked at it as preventative healthcare. Which ought to save money in the long run, right? :)

thank you for this very interesting post!

Lori ann said...

Oh i should have said that for me it was also necessary to check what I was buying because one of my babies had sensitive skin so I had to be careful. It's just worked for us! I didn't mean to say that i was buying something better, just better for us. sorry.time for bed Lori.

Bogey said...

Thanks for your comments Lori. You touched on another aspect of product purchases which I never even thought about. With the number of artifical ingredients and perfumes in products these days, it's a wonder we all don't walk around with rashes. Good point!

James said...

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When you get a chance please visit my Something Sighted blog.

Rob-bear said...

"Quality, it seems, is only a word on a Mission Statement and becoming harder to find than Waldo." Sigh. How true!

After 39 years of marriage, my wife got her first "new" refrigerator today. Part of the "trick" of modern living (plumbing, appliances et al.) is to know someone who can actually fix these things. Such people are worth their weight in gold. We know someone who can do electrical, plumbing and minor house repairs, and another who fix any appliance.

We've never had much money -- well below median income. But we have clear title to an older home, which is reasonably comfortable (though it needs a fair amount of "attention"). My wife is a whiz at budgeting, which is why we are where we are. And yes, most of my clothes are second hand. And yes, we recycle everything from vegetable scraps (compost) to used clothes that no longer fit, etc. In fact, the old refrigerator we have replaced will be heading to a used appliance shop tomorrow, to be refurbished and sold to someone else.

Hilary said...

Smart thinking on your part. I'm kind of surprised to hear that there is such waste outside the university doors as you mention. Never before has research been so easy - you'd think that there'd be a bit of homework done before such purchases.

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Interesting stuff and I would just add one more thing. I think men are much less susceptible to ads than women. We are much more likely to try out a new product line.