I like to think of myself as a fairly cost conscience kind of guy, one that doesn’t fall for the practices of sly marketeers. No, I’m a thinking man who considers my choices in the marketplace. I do my research and make my selection based on a combination of reputation, reviews, and price.
Yet for most of my adult life, I’ve been mindlessly loyal to a product without ever really stopping to think about it. It wasn’t a brand of cola or a dishwashing detergent. Those have come and gone over the years. No, this product I have bought every couple of months for over 20 years even as the price has skyrocketed.
Mindless Product Loyalty
Shortly after I first began shaving, Gillette introduced a highly marketed Sensor 3 razor. It has three blades for a closer shave without irritation. “Great!”, I thought back then, “I’ve got to get one of those.” It worked pretty well and I continued to use it.
Over the years, the price of the blades increased regularly. And like the proverbial frog in a slowly heated pan of water, I continued buying the blades every couple of months.
Once I got married, my wife took over the majority of our family’s shopping duties, including keeping me in a constant supply of razors. When I popped the last blade into the razor, I’d add it to the shopping list magnetically attached to the fridge. On her next shopping trip, Laura would buy more blades for me.
Occasionally she would mention the price of the blades to me. She’d shop at discount stores and shopping clubs to find the best price. But I never really thought about changing my razor of over 20 years.
A Rude Awakening
I had forgotten to put blades on the shopping list for a couple of weeks. Shaving with the old blade was getting painful so I stopped by a big box store on the way home one day. “Wow! You’ve got to be kidding me!” Razors are outrageous! I couldn’t believe how expensive they were.
Once I’d been removed from the normal buying process for a several years, I hadn’t noticed just how expensive the blades had gotten. Laura had, and she had asked several times over the years if I was interested in looking for an alternative. But I hadn’t really taken notice.
Now, standing in the isle of the big box store, I was acutely aware. It was as if I was the frog being thrown into the pan of boiling water. I noticed.
I’ve jumped out.
I reached for the only alternative on the shelf. The Wilkinson Sword blades were a third the price of the Gillette brand blades. And you know, I really cannot tell much of a difference in the closeness of the shave. Nor is it any more abrasive to my skin.
Look for Ruts in Your Life
This has gotten me thinking about the buying ruts that we get into. I’d mindlessly paid three times as much for razor blades than I had needed to for years. Finally I woke up and looked for an alternative.
Are there other areas of my life that I should examine for wasteful spending?
- The satellite television service. A few years ago, I switched from DirecTv to Dish since the former’s monthly price went up by $3 to $5 annually. We seldom watch television. Do we really need all of those channels? Do we need television at all?
- The cellular phones. I’ve had the same cellular family plan for over ten years. We never even come close to going over the minutes. But to switch plans would mean paying only slightly less for a significantly decreased number of minutes. But maybe that’s something I need to consider.
- Store brands. When I was in college, I worked at a drug store. One of the many lessons I’d learned there was that often the store brands are made in the same plants as their name-brand counterparts. You get the same product without having to pay for the high-priced marketing.
What about you? Have you had a similarly eye-opening experience with the cost of a product? How have you saved money?