This past weekend I threw a surprise 40th birthday party for my wife. She’s a HUGE Neil Diamond fan so I went with a “Denim & Diamond” theme. My years in the design business have taught me that every detail needed to be considered: invitations, table decorations, themed alcoholic beverages, homebrew (yes I brew my own beer, SullyBrew), the wine, her outfit, the karaoke song list, stage and lighting and more. I even hired Tom Sadge, a Neil Diamond Impersonator, whom we’ve seen a handful of times.
To say it was EPIC would be an understatement.
If I could’ve had Neil himself, I probably would’ve passed. Yep, we actually prefer “Fake Neil.” Offstage he’s a normal dude, but when he’s “ON” he’s captivating. I have never felt cheated by opting for the “Fake Neil” because I believe his show is equal if not superior to the real Neil. It’s a testament to the time and effort he’s put into perfecting his product.
The same holds true for everything I purchase. Store aisles and e-commerce sites provide many options: some expensive, some cheap, some branded, some not. Ultimately I make a decision partially on price, but more importantly on the return I think that product will generate. That return may be taste, effectiveness at fighting a cold, removing a stain or killing weeds … the list goes on.
Regardless of which product or brand I choose, if it lacks flavor, breaks after three uses or doesn’t remove a stain, I’m not coming back. Brand loyalty starts with the quality of the product, not slick graphics or marketing. I’m willing to pay more to get more and I’m also willing to forgo branded products if the private label product delivers on its intended purpose.
Here are a few of my recent discoveries:
Poland Spring Water vs. Nice! Spring Water – Faking it is OK; it’s just water!
Hood Milk vs. Stop & Shop Milk – Faking it is OK.
Energizer Batteries vs. RadioShack Batteries – I’m not actually tracking how long the battery is in use.
Oreos vs. Crème Filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookies – No contest.
Thomas’ English Muffins vs. Store Brand English Muffins – Thomas’ has perfected the nooks and crannies.
Neil Diamond vs. The Real Fake Neil – See above.
Scotts TP vs. Great Value TP – I’m too scared to try,
Budweiser vs. SullyBrew – Nothing fake about it!
I love being a consumer in today’s market. Private label products are no longer the value alternative; they’re legitimate offerings. Improved quality makes them viable options for my household; more importantly they challenge traditional brands to continually innovate their products (you won’t believe how many “New & Improved” violators I’ve designed this year).