The Lost Art (and Appreciation) of Quality

The Lost Art (and Appreciation) of QualityThe Lost Art (and Appreciation) of Quality

It’s easy to make a broad statement such as “people used to care about quality but now they just don’t”… but like most broad statements, it’s only partially true.
Today there’s a quality divide… it does not always follow income or wealth (but it usually does). The problem is that because of the race to the bottom by some retailers and marketers our choices of quality for some items is limited, hard-to-find, or non-existent. This same shortsightedness has led to a lot of less than desirable things… back in the days of video tape, the Beta format won out over VHS when Beta was higher quality.
There are numerous examples, think the Wal-Mart crowd vs. the Neiman Marcus crowd. You may be temped to think that the shopper at Wal-Mart would prefer to shop at Neiman Marcus… in some cases you would be correct, but in a lot of cases you would not.
This race to the bottom has led to generations of consumers that simply don’t know any better. They don’t know that laminated particleboard furniture you assemble at home is substandard to solid hardwood furniture with dovetail joints. They don’t care that their shoes or electronics are made in a toxic fume laced factory in China by pregnant women and young girls. They simply care about price and nothing else.
We live in a “disposable” age, where a good portion of the population is content paying for inferior goods and services.
What’s My Point?
I’m glad you asked because I was starting to get off track!
My point is that when you’re creating your products, web site, sales pages, marketing material, etc. you need to understand which segment you’re selling to. You can’t mix them up. You’ll fail if you do. For someone only interested in the best price, you have to only prove that your product or service is good enough and that your price is the best. For the person interested in quality, you have to prove you have extraordinary quality, better then the other guy’s product or service.
It’s rare that one product or service would have both the highest quality and the lowest price – in that case you should raise the price! There are a lot of quality oriented consumers that will bypass a low priced product even if it was the best product simply because the price was too low. Too often price is directly associated to quality (no matter if it’s a correct assumption or not) so don’t try to fight that association.
Update (10/11/2011) Seth Godin posted a great article that I relate to this article. Seth is talking about not shutting off the conversation between a customer or patron and a business, but I see it as quality of caring. You either care and open up the conversation, or, you don’t care and shut off the conversation. It’s all about quality and quality starts with caring… about yourself and the other person. Here’s his post: Open Conversations (or Close Them)
Until next time,