Does a Higher Price Always Mean Higher Quality?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 3 comments

Market analysts have discovered something surprising about human nature. When choosing a product we don’t know much about, we automatically assume the highest-priced item is also the highest quality. This carries over into our sensory perceptions, as well: consumers who eat more expensive pizza or drink more expensive wine claim these products taste better than their lower-priced varieties.

But is it really true? Does a higher price indicate higher quality?

Well, yes and no. By determining when this perception is correct — and when it’s simply a response to effective marketing — you can not only save yourself money, but choose quality products without hesitation.

Here’s how to figure out if an item is worth the cost:

The Cost/Quality Conundrum

Appeal to Your Senses

We judge quality through our senses: how does it taste/smell/look/feel? Marketing that uses packaging, perfumes, and positive associations to appeal to our senses often supersedes our better judgment.

Think about this the next time you choose your bath and body products. Do you choose brands and packaging that appeal to a certain feeling, image, or sense? Most likely, you do — without even realizing it. We’re also programmed to think haute cuisine tastes better than cheap diner food. While sometimes this is the case (upscale restaurants spend more on quality ingredients), other times the quality is comparable.

So how do you decide if your senses are leading you astray? By taking the time to critique products objectively.

If you’ve been avoiding a cheaper brand for no reason, give it a try. You may realize it’s been an unnecessary bias. Imagine how much you could save if you simply switched out a few of your more expensive brands for their cheaper (but just as high quality) counterparts!

Do Your Research

Research has shown we tend to choose higher-priced varieties of products when we don’t know much about them. I’m fairly certain I’ve used this logic before, thinking it was safer to go with the better brand. While this may protect you from a bad experience, it can cost more than it needs to.

Why not do the research before buying something you’re not familiar with? Learn the key features that are truly important to the product’s performance (or taste), read plenty of reviews about various brands, and talk to people who’ve purchased it before. This will allow you to make an informed decision that’s not affected by a perceived value linked to a higher price, fancier packaging, or flowery advertising.

Sometimes the cheaper brand really is poorly made and not worth wasting your money on. Other times, you’ll find it gets the job done just as well as the pricier competition. Be willing to try new things in an effort to live more frugally, tighten your budget, and save money for things that are truly worth the cost.

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  • Bert says:

    Generic products are produced by “name” brand factories. They do this to keep their operations rolling. For the most part, these products are identical to the name. The extra money for the brand goes to pay for advertising, etc.

  • fredjohnson says:

    I think the correct answer to your question is: Sometimes.

  • Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom says:

    I like to go with: you’ll never know until you try! I’ve found quite a few generic products that I love that I wouldn’t have found unless I gave them a shot. Super easy way to save money! Sometimes it’s worth it to pay the extra if it’s a better value.

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