Michael McDonald's Blog

A Better Lint-Picker-Upper

I have two cats and a preference for black chinos. These two things do not mix well, so I also have a number of lint rollers hidden away. As I was using the roller in my dresser, which is larger and feels stickier, it occurred to me that it was working much better than the roller at the entrance to my apartment. The quality of the roller is not something people think about when buying one, so what's to stop companies from continually skimping and creating crappier and crappier lint rollers?

One idea: the quality of the products become associated with the quality of the store that sells the product. If things that you buy at X-Mart tend to break or not work as well, you will start to identify X-Mart with low quality and will be compelled to shop elsewhere. Note that this association is rarely a result of a conscious decision (wow, X-Mart products really suck, maybe I should try Y-Mart) but is surprisingly powerful on the subconscious level. (If you haven't read Blink! yet, close your Web browser and go to the nearest bookstore.)

This works the other way around, too. My sister and I recently discovered that the chocolate powder sold at Zingerman's Deli is actually rebranded Scharffen Berger chocolate powder but marked up several dollars. The resulting branding, for me, is that Zingerman's is expensive but also sells the best stuff. If I didn't know which brand of chocolate powder was good, why risk buying crap at Safeway when I know that the chocolate powder at Zingerman's is really good, maybe better than anything I could find at Safeway. (This ties into the Paradox of Choice, as well.)

link  |   |  4/27/07 08:00pm
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