"You Get What You Pay For" - is Tech Making Us Savvier Buyers?
Posted by Mark Hunter - August 18, 2011
Our grannie always told us, "you get what you pay for". The idea being if you buy cheap, you get cheap.
Another classic is, "buy cheap, buy twice". Again, the idea is buying cheap products is false economy.
So, how do these pithy sayings apply to power tools, and in particular how are power tool websites, blog and social networks helping consumers make wise purchases?
An article in the 17th June 2011 DIY Week magazine noted that, while pricing is still very much a deciding factor when purchasing tools, customers tend to be moving away from lower-end, DIY-type tools, to professional models.
Simply put, buy cheap, twice...And that has to apply to professional tradespeople buying power tools, not just weekend DIYers or hobbyists.
As our own Neil Bruce, quoted in the DIY Week magazine article, says, "we get people who have maybe bought one budget tool and realised that, after a few uses, it's going in the bin.
Whereas you buy a professional model and you know it's going to last forever."
But does buying pro just mean more expensive, albeit better quality?
The difference is almost always about features.
Think about it, a pro-model of a tool, such as a jigsaw or a router, for example, will always have more advanced features. Stuff like electric brakes on a router, or pendulum strokes on a jigsaw. While these features cost more, they allow you to do more. Work longer. Smarter. Harder. All those cliches...
And then when we move into the world of cordless power tools, the difference between cheaper model and pro models can be even more stark.
Spending a bit more on a quality, professional cordless power tool will likely mean lithium-ion batteries brimming with power management technology that run longer and more reliably - and charge faster - than cheaper battery types on DIY or hobby-ist tools.
Lithium-ion batteries will power tools such as grinders, meaning a lighter, more nimble tool.
All told, spending a bit more cash on a professional power tool will mean you're getting much, much more tool for your hard-earned, it'll do more for you, it'll be quicker, more reliable and it won't "end up in the bin" after a few uses.
It's also going to be made of sterner stuff.
A budget power tool will cost less, obviously, but the cash savings are almost always in the shape of the components; plastic gear housing rather than aluminium, etc. The tool costs less to make, the savings are passed onto you, but you're getting a tool that, quite simply, isn't made as well as a professional model.
Is technology making us savvier buyers?
One area spotted by both DIY Weekly magazine, and our friends at the North American Retail Association, is that the savvy consumer is harnessing the power of the internet - and social media - to help them research and source the best tool for their cash.
While it's true that some consumers can't see past taking a trip to their local, bricks-and-mortar tool store, the trend seems to be increasing that the savvy shoppers check online for the best prices and deals available from on-line retailers.
And where shopping on-line lacks the tactile, pick-it-up-and-try-it appeal, smart retailers are using social media to provide as much information on the power tools before the user buys.
Hence, the Toolstop YouTube channel, for example.
There we provide short, snappy, but detailed videos on what the tools do, what their main unique features are and who'll benefit from them.
On top of that, providing customers with a way to contact, converse and engage with the retailer on-line is crucial.
Sites like Twitter and Facebook provide ideal ways for quick interactions, giving you, the customers, the opportunity to ask questions about the product - even asking other power tool users for their feedback - before breaking out the credit card.
Some customers are known to go into their local hardware shop of a weekend, get a feel for the tool they've been researching online, then buy it online - at a saving - on Monday morning...
In all of this, though, there's one element that can't be overlooked when choosing a power tool.
We've looked at price, quality, features and the chance to interact on-line before buying.
But what about brand loyalty?
In the 12 months ending June 2011, a quarter of power tool consumers cited brand/model selection as the primary reason for purchasing an item at a specific retailer, increasing in importance from the previous 12 months.†Online power tool sales now account for nearly 10 percent of all items sold.†More than a quarter of power tool consumers are doing some kind of pre-purchase research, and half of them are doing it online. [emphasis ours]
So the suggestion seems to be that we're loyal to our favourite power tool brands, we want top-notch features and we want to use the internet to research our purchase beforehand.
Where do you, as a consumer and as a power tool user, fit into this paradigm?
Do you research on-line before buying? Do you watch YouTube videos as part of that research? What about talking to other power tools users to get their feedback before you buy?
And what about choosing professional class power tools over DIY/hobby-ist models; is that the route you always take?
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