Monday, November 5, 2007

You Get What You Pay For?

You’ve heard the old adage “you get what you pay for,” but I’m not so sure that is true anymore. With the internet, product pricing is very transparent, highly accessible, and quick and easy to find. You can go to many product websites, review sites, or, if you're so inclined, to a brick and mortar store and get advice, guidance, recommendations on a product. At an physical store you can actually hold and test a product, see the actual size, etc. Then you can go back home, free of stress and sales people and crowds and search around for a bit to find the best price. In a couple minutes, you can have that product paid for and sent to your home. Now to the kitchen for a cookie!

So are you getting what you pay for? This used to mean that if something was a higher price, it was generally assumed to be better. But now, you just might have found a great deal. Maybe there is a site that had overstock of a product. Maybe a store is having a random Tuesday sale. Maybe you found your product selling at a discount rate for one day only on Maybe you found it on ebay. Maybe, you emailed a variety of retailers what you were willing to pay for a product, and the one that got back to you first with an acceptance for that price got your business (I did that for my Kia minivan…a new 2006 cost our family less than a used 2005! Not that I like Kia, as I’ve come to find out, but that’s a different story).

This evolving pattern of consumer behavior has changed the way I view products. It used to be that I felt somewhat superior having a product that cost more than a competing product. With the proliferation of “retailers” carrying identical items, I have a harder time using product price to estimate value. The more personal, interactive, participatory behaviors of web 2.0 are shaping how we define worth, forcing companies to communicate brand in a proliferation of context driven ways. (Brian Oberkirch describes this as edgework, a fascinating concept which I am still trying wrap my head around.)