I was recently speaking with one of the senior executives from a leading PC organization in Canada. He was lamenting the price versus quality issue once again, which got me thinking about how this issue keeps ebbing and flowing, like the ocean’s tides, and continues to fascinate us.
It causes grief, as in the instance of this one person, and joy in others, possibly a key competitor. At different times in our careers, we will find ourselves either riding the wave, or stuck on the shore.
When two firms are in direct opposition, their products and services compete head-to-head on pricing, feature set, and service offerings. Comparing on price is a slightly easier task for the vast majority than is comparing service offerings or components. However, for those in the technological know, comparing components and features is the most popular. The difference between AMD and Intel processors is distinguishable to those selling PCs, for example. But to the average purchaser, to the chagrin of both Intel and AMD, it is a moot point.
However, one might be better suited to a client’s application, or a particular display might be better suited, or a memory or storage option might be a better selection. In the case of this conversation, we were discussing PC components, mainly memory and CPUs. But this topic is one that I see increasingly in the consumer electronic space – especially as the display screen sizes and pixel resolution increase. And as the debate between price and quality heats up, how does brand play in this discussion?
A friend of mine recently purchased a 27-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) television. In her decision-making process, she asked my opinion on some brands. I recommended a couple of companies – brands – that also have product offerings in the computer display product segment. She made her selection, and brought home her beautiful new television.
She selected a product from a well-respected organization. The LCD was gorgeous, I thought, until I looked at it from a side angle, and the picture quality dissipated. Then I looked at it square on, and backed up. At a certain distance, it was fine; otherwise, it wasn’t very good at ll. Now to be fair, she doesn’t look at it from the side very much. As well, she has smartly placed her furniture a strategic distance from the screen, and can enjoy the view. She sacrificed 100 per cent quality for a price reduction. Which is what we do: We will settle for something of lesser quality to stay within our budgets.
Transfer this scenario to the corporate client, who goes to their IT partner for a solution for the boardroom, or for the company lounge. These purchases, which might skate the line between consumer electronics and information technology, might be available at a big box retailer, or at a trusted IT partner organization. The trusted partner has the ability, the opportunity and the responsibility to outline the differences.
As marketers and as salespeople, the challenge lies right there, in offering products that will fit the technological demands of our customers at a price point they can afford.
However, in how many instances is quality sacrificed? Is that message properly communicated to the clients? Do they know what to expect by opting for a lesser quality product?
I’m not 100 per cent convinced that my friend fully realized the inconvenience the poor viewing angles would cause her. Even though she selected a well-respected brand, she opted for a product that was not the top of this vendor’s line. As such, the quality was compromised.
Circling back to my conversation with the senior executive at the PC organization, what I found interesting was how he was able to turn this debate into a selling opportunity for his organization. In the middle of the conflict, he saw an opportunity for growth.
And that ability, I suspect, will help propel him to further success.
Michelle Warren is a Canadian-based IT industry analyst
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