The Myth of Good, Better, Best

Why is it that almost anything you shop for these days is available in at least 3 levels of quality: Good, Better, and Best?

Why would a company purposely make a product that they admit in their own advertising is not the best? I understand that adding features is often a method that manufacturers use to set their premium product apart from other offerings and to increase the ticket price of that item. But that often leads the manufacturer to offer good, better, and best options to the consumer.

So the company offers an entry-level, poor quality product, as well as a mid-price, slightly better quality version of the same product, and an expensive, premium quality version of basically the same product with more features.

I will admit price is also often the deciding factor for a consumer; not everyone can, or is willing to, pay for a premium product for every purpose. Sadly, sometimes the customer has to settle for a lower quality product strictly for budgetary reasons. And usually that customer is disappointed with the lack of quality and ultimately regrets not buying a better product. It seems this would make them less likely to consider that manufacturer for their next purchase.

My question is why not just produce one superior product the company can really be proud of that already has all the features everyone wants and can afford easily? Price it above the low quality versions everyone else is producing and yet lower than the original premium price.

Can this be done economically? Of course. Let’s examine the cost to the company to make three or more versions of essentially the same product. Each version of the basic product requires separate research and development costs, individual tooling and other engineering costs, specific manufacturing processes, separate inventories of parts, different user manuals, packaging design and printing, advertising materials, distinct labor pools for manufacturing and assembly, etc. This duplication of processes is expensive and completely unnecessary.

It appears to me that combining the individual research and development, manufacturing, assembly, printing and marketing costs for the separate products into a single budget stream to produce only one exceptional product would provide a more cost-effective solution. The reduction in manufacturing costs and other expenses could be passed on to the consumer to counteract the issue of an excessive price for a quality product. The manufacturer would have reduced expenses and increased profits and the consumer would get a great quality product with the features they want at a reasonable price.

I think that in the end everyone would benefit from this approach, don’t you?