I wanted to write something of my thoughts, about what I feels is an odd change in us and our thinking. Personal and corporate. I’ll start with family. My mother is careful with all she has. When I think about her kitchen, there are things my eyes are drawn to, that have been around for decades. An example of that is a set of knives. I’ve used knives as a professional, and these are great. They are also, over 40 years. old. I find that amazing, because I think we all know now, that the Ginsu with all the wonderful advertising through commercials and infomercials, are a waste of 20 bucks. That’s still true, no matter how much free plastic they give you with it. To send it back under its lifetime warranty, a waste of time. Why a waste of time? Because all you get back is another crappy knife. I think this shows nicely, the change we’ve gone through, in what is actually a very short time.
I believe this says something about where we are going, as we slip into our self imposed future. A disposable future . The rise of the infomercial age and beyond.
I remember when you bought something, not already thinking about your next something. This is caused by, the changed expectations we now have for our purchases. Actually planning to spend money on the same type of product again, as soon as we buy or finance our new “Thing”. Why? We know, even though no one said a word, that what we spent our money on won’t last.
Cellphones are on two year contracts, which is good because you can’t rely on it lasting longer. Televisions are made to last 5 years. Cars 5-7 years, for a regular driver. Clothing’s made to fall apart, permeates the market. But that’s really not the manufacturers.
In the late 70’s early 80’s advertising and marketing professionals, created this market of lowered expectations. It appears, as our consumer confidence waned in American made goods, it became easier to allow the overseas manufacturers to flooded our markets with goods. Not all of these products were poorly made, but a great many were.
Then pop culture, with its quickening pace and the jaded new generation of consumer, gained purchasing power. Consumers who grew up with no expectation of reliable goods. When they met our economy full on, the mix of the two, consumer and manufacturers, truly lowered the perceived standard of quality and construction. As a business, why strive to make a quality, long lasting product at a good value, if none of your customer have that expectation of a product? You meet the quality the consumer expects, and keep your costs, and the consumers cost, down. The theory being, if your customer only expects to buy crap, and does so, give them crap.
Remember, the only responsibility business has is to their stockholders, even if they are considered “persons”. A concept, I never seem to be able to wrap my head around.
I think with crappy products, we as Americans should be happy all these poorly made goods don’t come from here. (most of our manufacturing base is gone). We need to stop wasting our money, encouraging this behavior from consumers, corporations, and manufactures. I like the idea of buying American, but that’s not now possible in our new world economy. So, I’d like us to be “Smart Consumers”. When I say that, I’m not so much thinking about big-ticket items, as I believe most of us at least try to make quality decisions there. Trying, is all I ask.
Where I think we fail is in everyday items. I make jokes about dollar stores. I shop there myself, but still I feel the same. I see a ton of things that will be tossed away. Why not buy a pancake spatula that will last, and won’t melt the third time you use it? Doing this is only causing you go spend another dollar for a new one. And trust me, that new one will do just the same as the first. I really feel, we would be better off making more quality goods and more quality durable goods. Even if they cost more, like the old Curtis Mathes Televisions.
I’d like a manufacturing base returned to us, that was more than building machines of war. I’d like to have a better export to offer, than Hollywood movies. I’d like to bring back an expectation in reliable goods, and fill that niche with our countries high quality manufactured goods. I believe we would succeed in the world market, even with higher priced product, because of the quality and durability. It’s possible, because we know we can back those goods, with a promise of quality and service. Because of our pride, knowing we make the best products. There is pride in being able to say, “Yes our products are the most expensive in the world, but unlike the others, ours are darn well worth the price”. I don’t want us to continue down the path we’re on, to our self imposed, “Disposable Future”.