Archive for Monday, May 17, 2004

Consumers opting for high-end products

May 17, 2004


I've been dreaming of a dryer. It's not just any clothes dryer. It's the upscale Maytag "Neptune Drying Center.''

It's not like me to want to go high-end. I'm the kind of girl that won't let my husband put to rest our 20-year-old VCR. It's so old the remote is attached to the machine by a long black wire -- you can only sit a certain distance from the television if you want to change the channel.

So what's wrong with me? Why am I obsessed with the Neptune, which retails for an eye-popping $1,200?

Survey says

Well, according to a survey by Boston Consulting Group, I'm not out of my mind. The fact is a lot of consumers are willing to spend big dollars to buy quality items that have features they care about.

For example, some consumers are buying higher-priced, front-loading washing machines because they use less water and energy and can cause less damage to clothes.

Sixty-seven percent of people making $50,000 or more in yearly household income said it was worth paying more for certain premium quality products because that was a smarter way to spend money, according to the BCG survey.

The management consulting firm says there's a trading up phenomenon going on. In its survey, which was conducted last year, BCG found that 90 percent of the consumers were willing to pay more for a premium-quality major appliance.

And the BCG survey found that 68 percent of consumers said that when they buy a high-end product, they "feel a sense of accomplishment and even excitement.''

That's how I feel about the Neptune. I think this Mercedes-class dryer could be worth the high price tag. Maytag's Neptune Drying Center pairs a traditional tumble dryer with an upper drying cabinet that the company promises will minimize shrinkage, speed up the drying process, reduce wrinkles and eliminate odors -- saving me time and money.

I want all those features. I hate doing laundry. So if this machine will make it significantly easier to dry my clothes, I'll show Maytag my money.

But I suggest that before you buy a top-of-the line appliance, spend some time thinking about whether what you want is really worth the money.

Items to consider

Here are a few of my own recommendations:

  • Call yourself a timeout before you buy anything. Mull over the decision. I've been thinking about buying the Neptune dryer for a year.
  • Don't believe all the hype. A manufacturer's promotional pitch always sounds great. Keep in mind that all that's pricey isn't necessarily good. During my research, I've found a number of consumer Web sites where people were complaining about the Neptune washer.
  • Buy what you can afford. If, by buying a high-end appliance, you have to incur more debt, you need to stick to lower-priced products. Many of them will still get the job done.

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