Cheaping Out

Came across these wise words recently. It was polymath Benjamin Franklin wot wrote 'em [well, I doubt he actually hand painted the sign, he was probably too busy mucking around with electricity and drafting the Declaration of Independence to do that].

Anyway, it struck me that this statement is as true today as it ever was.

Fair enough, everyone loves a bargain. However, society now has an obsession about chasing the lowest possible price whatever the cost.

No matter if an item of clothing is made in a sweatshop by a blind Bangladeshi child working eighteen hours a day being paid a pittance, if you can pick up a nice new jumper for less than a fiver, you're quids in. Bonus.

Now, I fully appreciate that price is a very important factor for the vast majority of honest, decent, hard-working folk who need to count the pennies and get by on a budget. That's just everyday life.

However, I think we've become so conditioned to chasing the cheapest possible option that we forget that things like product quality are equally, if not more, important in the long run.

And I think marketers and agencies are largely culpable because they invest so much time and energy in relentlessly churning out offer specific communication without investing properly in brand equity. Buy me! Buy me! Look at this deal! Great discounts! Unbelievable prices! Hurry!

Now, the cut and thrust of retail means that price led advertising isn't going to go away. However, ain't it about time that more brands stood for something truly differentiating?

If you're constantly bombarding people with starbursts in advertising, chances are you're cheapening your brand.

And over time competitors can always come along and undercut you on price leaving you with bugger all competitive advantage.

Great brands have a value attached to them way and above their cost. They communicate compelling benefits that help convince consumers to pay a premium for them.

If low price is the only benefit you're communicating, you're in a hole that's very difficult to get out of.

If you're in that hole and you need some sort of ladder to help you get out, just make sure you don't choose the cheapest option and buy on price alone.


The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.  


  1. I always look for the sweet spot between reliability and value but then again 'value' is perceived.

  2. Only one person can be the cheapest.

    I always liked the (similar) phrase "Beauty remains long after the price has been forgotten".

    I've used it to justify many an extravagant, but worthwhile, purchase. Never regretted any of them.

  3. Cecil B. DeMille15 October 2013 at 13:41

    A man with a cheap sign is a sure sign of a cheap man.

    I've heard that, or seen it, somewhere before. What do you think of price framing, and the very retail need to be seen as price-competitive? The JCPenney situation over the last year or two is not a direct corollary by any means, but it does create the question in my mind.

    Is the perception of value more valuable than the actual value?