Price or Quality – What the Customer REALLY wants.


When I operated a tied-agency sales team in the 1980s one of the great complaints (excuses?) from my salespeople for failing to close a deal was that our product was dearer than the competition. The other (excuse!) was that the competition had a better quality product. My response was along the lines of the following:

Me: “So tell me, what is the most successful retailer in the UK today?”

Adviser: “Marks & Spencer, I guess”

Me: “Yes, I think so too. So, tell me does M&S sell the lowest priced goods in the UK”

Adviser: “No, not at all. There are lots of cheaper stores. Woolworths for a start”

Me: “So Woolworths must do more business than M&S… yes?”

Adviser: “N, not at all. Their stuff is rubbish…”

Me: “OK. So M&S must have the best quality goods on the market. Would you say they have the best suits, for example?”

Adviser: “No way. I wouldn’t dream of buying a suit there…”

Me: “Actually you are right. They have a great food section but our local delicatessen would be miles ahead of them”

Adviser: “Of course….”

Me: “So let’s get this right: M&S is the most successful retailer in the UK yet it is not the cheapest, nor do they sell the highest quality products. That’s terrible. The staff and management at M&S must be feeling very nervous. They are con-men; total frauds…!”

OK. You get the drift…

Today I would probably use John Lewis in the example. Why is John Lewis so highly regarding by everybody? Heck, I even like the place myself.

You see, it’s not just about price and it’s not just about quality. It’s also about the service proposition. It’s not necessarily what you do, but how you do it.

Great brands deliver more than low prices or the highest quality. They provide a unique combination: price + quality + service = Added Value/Brand.

What do you offer that is unique? What does your ‘personal brand’ stand for… At the end of that day that is all that counts.

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