Dear Jill: I do wonder how often quality factors into your purchase decisions. If I like one brand better than another, is it ever worth paying a little more for it? I feel like some things are just worth paying more for, especially laundry soap, but I also am mindful that I could save more each week if I made lower-cost choices. — Roberta V.
Certainly, as a shopper myself, saving money is important to me. There are specific categories of items that I consider to be “the same.” For example, I don’t find that frozen vegetables differ very much, brand to brand. To me, one name-brand bag of frozen green beans is as good as a competitor’s brand or the store’s house brand of green beans. This is an example of a product I’m buying solely on price. I like to pay less than $1 per 16-ounce bag, so I’ll look for the brand with the lowest price. If I have a coupon that further lowers the cost, that’s even better.
When we consider products that are similar to each other but not exactly the same, we may also see different price points for different qualities of products or products with different ingredients or formulations. I tend to shop mainly on price, so over the many years I’ve spent as the primary shopper in our household, I find myself in the position of having tried a lot of different brands of popular products. It’s only natural to have developed preferences for some brands over others.
Recently, a friend of mine mentioned a specialty brand of pasta sauce that I hadn’t purchased before due to its high price — typically $7.99 per 16-ounce jar. She raved about it and said that if I tried it, I would like it so much that I would probably stop buying other brands! Considering that I typically want to pay $1 or less for name-brand pasta sauces, I was skeptical. I kept an eye on the sauce prices each time I went to the store, and last week, it went on sale Buy One Get One Free. This brought the price down to about $4 per jar, a significant saving over this sauce’s regular price.
I bought two jars to try, and my friend was not wrong — my family immediately wanted to know what kind of sauce this was. It tasted like a homemade sauce, and it was thick and flavorful. Quickly I decided that this was the pasta sauce we’d be buying in the future! I returned to the store to stock up during the sale, and just like that, the price I was willing to pay for a jar of pasta sauce jumped from $1 to $4. I’m open to paying $3 more per jar because the quality of this sauce is so different from other brands and we enjoyed it so much more.
Ultimately, a product you’re not satisfied with is not worth buying. If you’re able to afford to pay a little more for the premium variety that you prefer, you may be happier in the long run versus buying a product that isn’t as pleasing to you only because it costs less.
If you prefer a specific brand of an item over another, do pay attention to the sales cycles for that item and take note of the lowest price you see the product on sale for. This will give you a benchmark of the best price range to buy the product in.