It was September 2006, I had reported to my place of primary assignment, I was allocated an apartment and moving in I inspected the bathroom. The water closet was rusty red. Off I go to the market, bought Harpic – a cleaning solution – applied it, got my toilet brush, scrubbed and flush. Voila! Sparkling white. My neighbours were impressed as they could not pull off the same cleaning effect with their toilets, obviously the secret sauce, Harpic, was missing from their solution.
May 2014, moved into a new apartment and met the same situation; brown toilets. I love old tricks, they are second nature. Off I go once more to the market and get my trusted Harpic. Only this time my toilet remained brown to my disappointment. Let me be less dramatic. I didn’t just find out that Harpic was no longer effective at cleaning my toilet and bathtub, but this time I really need it to work, at least for old time sake.
Harpic is not alone, the products I used growing up are no longer what they used to be.
I love baking, and there is this great recipe for short bread biscuits that I thrill my friends with. My brother once took my biscuits to school and his friends couldn’t have enough. So hoping to impress my wife, since I haven’t made it since we got married, I get my ingredients, mix, bake to my disappointment, the short bread didn’t come out the way it used to. Something was wrong, the flour, the butter, or both? I don’t know. The quality of the ingredients has change. I have had to alter my mixture for cakes to meet up with the low quality of the ingredients.
As a bread lover, my breakfast for 4 or 5 days in a week can be bread and something else with coffee or tea. However, I have become tired of the breads I get these days. Then one day, I go to a friend’s house, open his refrigerator, and there was bread. Took a bite, wow! This is the best bread to have greeted my taste buds since I can remember. Got the name of the bread and I became a customer, make the pilgrimage to the bakery to get the bread. But gradually I began to notice the bread was no longer what I fell in love with.
So my question is: Why do businesses not sustain the quality of their products? The first joy that made you a loyal customer of the product is taken away from you. And what is left is a disgruntled customer. Disgruntled customers are the last things businesses need.
Business owners would tell you to sustain that first quality at an affordable price isn’t possible, so to retain the price, quality has to drop. But quality is one thing that should not be compromised. I see this happen all the time, even in drugs. If a drug is no longer potent what is the use? If Harpic can’t clean my toilets anymore then what is the use? I didn’t go to the market to buy Harpic, I need a clean toilet and a clean toilet I didn’t get. If I can’t get the value of what I paid for, I have wasted every bit of my money and time.
There are times I go to the market willing to pay more for quality, but the quality is not to be found.
True we default to frowning when prices are raised but we feel betrayed when a product cannot deliver on its promise due to a drop in quality. It is better your customers are mad at the store when they see a raised price, than being mad at home after buying an “affordable” product.
If your product really creates value, and satisfies a need, people would be willing to put down the money.