Opinion

When Does Paying For Quality Not Make Sense?

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Lynnette Goh

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Buying a quality product for a higher price versus buying not-so-high quality at a lower price. When it comes to purchasing stuff, our mindset on what is worth our money can be rather one-dimensional. We want the best quality at the lowest price, but we get skeptical if something of the same quality can be found way cheaper.

So we end up buying more expensive options ‘cause we want to invest in “quality” products. Of course, there are some occasions where “quality” isn’t so much needed as low costs. So should we pay for quality or not? It’s like one of those questions everyone has a different answer to. I investigate the what, how, when, and whys of the term “pay for quality”:

 

We need to know what it means to “pay for quality”

I realise the term “pay for quality” can get really confusing – does it mean you paying a premium for it? Or does it just simply mean buying quality purchases (regardless of their price)?

Affordable prices do not necessarily equate to good quality, and expensive items are not necessarily better quality. Some of products that have very vast price points even come from the same manufacturers/ factories! So maybe the wiser way to spend would be to simply buy quality instead. Now that we’ve got that established…

 

WHAT is quality to you?

It seems we all have differing standards of what is “quality” and what’s not. What I define as quality might be different from what my friends or even siblings define as quality. The same soft cotton shirt may be quality to me but cheap material to you. Even categories of products have different definitions of what makes them “quality”.

 

WHY do we want quality products?

For example, when you buy clothes- Does it mean better comfort? Softer materials? More assurance of the longevity of the product, that it will not get spoilt to pieces within the year? Does it mean less time spent buying it again? When it comes to household items, is it a better way to doing things?

A Rainbow water vacuum offers extra features such as air purification and dry cleaning of mattresses. It offers professional home cleaning without the price of such professional services. That is something cheaper vacuums can never do in the same scale.

 

WHEN do we need it?

They are many times we mere humans get confused on when quality and when price should take precedence when we have supermarkets these days selling premium apples at $10 each.

But in general, if you are actually pondering if you should pay a premium price for that item with better quality, here’re a few factors to consider:

 

Relevance

The most important question you should ask yourself:

Do I really need to buy this item at such quality?
Can I make do with less quality items at a fraction of the price? Is saving on the price difference a better idea?
Is this suited to what I need?
Will it stay useful to me in the years to come?

Sometimes we get tempted to buy an expensive item because we’re sold on the idea of the item being a premium. We feel we’re somehow pampering ourselves by buying such overpriced items. But in reality, these “treats” might not even make that significant a difference in how we consume them if they are not suitable for our needs.

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For example, this Dyson vacuum costs $875.90 more than this no frills Electrolux vacuum with it’s main unique selling point being that you don’t have to change any filters or replace any vacuum bags. Don’t get it if you have a helper at home and all you’re looking for is a tool to help with your basic daily dusting. Or if you’re a clean freak that cannot stand not changing your filters. Get it if you’re doing the housework yourself and you hate cleaning out the vacuum bags.

Omg why you guys so bad..Are you implying helpers don’t deserve good tools too?
No we’re not saying that. Except I’ve come across people who blame their helpers for spoiling their stuff at home…and if you’re one of those people then better not AMIRITE? You don’t wanna fling your stuff at them like the bracelet lady and say your helper stole/break them.

It’s the same with a designer handbags, even though you’re getting a quality leather bag that has longevity, do you really need your bag to last long or do you simply need one for aesthetic purposes? ‘Cause if it’s the latter, that $2500 designer bag might just be out-of-fashion in a year’s time. And you would be better off buying similar bags from high-street fashion labels if you don’t wanna be stuck being known as the out-of-fashion label auntie…

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A Celine leather bag vs a leather bag from Pedro. Not quite the same but…I’m sure you catch the gist.

Another good example would be paying for “quality” clothing basics. One of the rules of the fashion world is to always buy quality basics such as white basic tees from reliable brands like Gap or Calvin Klein. They say it makes a better choice to buy quality material that doesn’t lose it’s shape for a slightly higher premium as opposed to something that’s short-lived. But I have bought both these quality basics and cheaper ones from Cotton On and Uniqlo. After a few years of wearing them, both the high-quality tee and low-quality tee had yellowish stains. Does quality make a difference? Not in this case.

 

Feasibility

Some items would require upkeep or maintenance every so often. Take water for example, you can just boil normal water from the basic $60 household kettle…

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…Or you can install a $2000 ionic filtration system that looks like this:

 

Is the upkeep of this system feasible for your lifestyle in the long run? Would you mind taking the time to run to stores to buy these replacement cartridges/filters every few months or is it too much of a hassle for you? When it comes to paying such high premiums for a mere difference in quality, it’s important to ask yourself if the consumption of such quality differences would affect your daily lifestyle. I personally feel that something as basic as water that eventually goes out my pee-hole isn’t worth all this money. So long as it’s edible can already mah. But that’s just my opinion. Whatever floats your boat…

Juicers in the same way also require more time for cleaning/washing after use. So don’t have time to fuss over such cleaning tasks, it’s best to just stick with a more feasible option like buying from your local hawker juice stall.

 

Frequency of use

Another thing you should ask yourself: How often would you be using the product and how much time would I spend everyday using it? If it’s something you’ll use everyday for many hours like your handphone and you use it for much more than just mere calls and messages, buy a higher quality phone. If it’s a mattress which you sleep on everyday and you hardly travel overseas, buy it. Splurge on the things you spend the most time using, save on the things you hardly use, or are starting to use.

With all that has been said, I guess the decision to “pay for quality” is a rather subjective one depending on your individual needs and your intended use for buying such said quality. But one thing’s for sure, you do need to train some level of focus when you’re shopping to keep your mind on track with the right questions to ask yourself.

Are you the sort who always prefers to buy high quality goods? What are your thoughts on this? Share them with us here!

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Lynnette Goh

Spoilt kid turned free-spirit, I’ve struggled finding and funding myself taking a road less travelled. These days, I enjoy writing lifestyle topics that bring value to life and its future, injecting humour to otherwise boring topics. Who said personal finance can’t be fun? In my free time, you can find me chasing American dramas, and having the occasional glass of wine over conversations with friends.