Everyone likes to save a buck and in less than ideal economic times, it’s a must. Practicing sensible marketing skills, stores offer sale merchandise to lure their customers into buying their own brands of products, where profit margins are greater. These private labels are generally priced below those of the better-known brands. The price differentiation is attractive to financially-conscious customers; after all, a penny saved…
Yesterday, I bought a Publix brand pizza. Publix is my nearest grocery store. I found it in their freezer, next to another brand in a colorful box, and from reading the package and judging by their outward appearance, their content seemed identical. I wrongly assumed their quality and taste would be too.
The outside display of the Publix pizza box was more plain-looking–a pie less colorfully topped with four different types of cheese on a self-rising crust. But it was offered for $2 less than the box next to it. To the inexperienced, the only difference was the cost of each and the allure of their imaging. Of course, the higher priced package was more enticing, but the lower cost of the Publix brand outweighed the imaging on the box.
I took it home and later that night, I took the box out of the freezer to bake. The first marked difference was the degree of difficulty to open the package. It wasn’t as easy as pulling a cardboard lead. I struggled with the heavily glued cardboard. Nothing like brain surgery, but definitely more labor intensive than the mere pull on a tab I was used to.
Once opened, the pizza was enclosed in a heavy gauged plastic wrapping. I struggled to get the pie out of the wrapping. My kitchen scissors were not sharp enough and the plastic was too thick to tear with my hands. The pie wasn’t placed on a cardboard tray, as has been my experience with other brands; it was by itself inside the sealed plastic wrapping. This made a difference to me, probably because it’s easier to cut once the pie is baked.
I carefully followed the baking instructions on the box. The timer went off and I waited the specified five minutes to cut and serve the slices. Sadly, they were lacking in taste. Even the cheese was flat, tasteless, like plain cardboard. The manufacturer used a negligible amounts of seasoning, particularly low in salt–something healthy, but unfortunate for the dish because what I mostly tasted was the crust, no punch to it; it was just like eating plain and simple thick, white bread.
Obviously, I expected more. I felt robbed. The $5 spent wasn’t worth the $2 I saved. I would’ve been better off spending the extra money to buy the brand I already knew. Satisfaction is worth more than 28% saved. Consequentially, in the future I’ll steer clear of Publix brand frozen pizza because this gamble was unquestionably negative.
Here’s my outlook: If large company CEOs don’t take the time to ensure the quality of the products that go out to the market displaying their private label, their earmarked larger profit-margins will eventually evaporate. Worse, all inferior products leave negative impressions on their customers, prompting them to question the company’s motivation, their attention to customer needs and their emphasis on profits over quality. Bad private label experiences bear the potential to sabotage future sales and erode customer loyalty.
Lax supervision of quality standards is generally perceived negatively by consumers. It translates as careless arrogance from a CEO. Customers tend to generalize and extrapolate their experiences, assessing and reassessing how they feel when they leave a place of business. Negative customer satisfaction is clearly not the impression any successful CEO wishes for a customer if the future of his company is the main concern. Customers expect the most powerful individual at the company to promote good business practices. The most salient of these is to ensure customer satisfaction. The safety and good quality of all goods and services must outweigh the cheap profits derived from promoting inferior products to a consumer.