Monday, August 27, 2012

The five steps of purchasing

When we go shopping we usually look at 5 traits of an item:

Manufacturer - Who made it?

Aesthetics - Does it look pretty?

Price - It costs how much?

Quality - Will it last the 5 years I plan on using it?

Compatibility - Will it do what I need it to do?

From what I understand, most people shop in that order.  When you go shopping for a bag, do you think "I need one with at least a dozen pockets", or do you think "I want a Giusy bag" (or whatever the fashion is today)?  When you need a pair of jeans, do you go to Goodwill because you just need something to cover your ass, or do you go to Old Navy?

The same can be said for other things as well.  If you need an MP3 player, well Apple's the obvious choice.  If you need a tablet, Apple again.  If you need a desktop, Windows.

But this is the wrong way of thinking.  The vary first question you should ask yourself when buying anything is "What do I want it to do for me?"  Do you need a computer that can play games, or does it need to do spreadsheets?  Do you just need one to surf the web?  Will a small screen work for you, or do you need a 67"?

Then you look at Quality.  Will those jeans last you a few years, or will you be forced to buy new ones in a month?  Will that computer run for a while, or will it catch on fire and burn your house down tomorrow?

Price is a big one.  We have say 25 items that are compatible with us and have the quality we need.  The price ranges from $200 netbook, to a $2,000 desktop.  In that event, the lower end of the spectrum is probably the way to go.

Then we can start thinking about what it looks like and what the name on the box says about us.  There is absolutely no point in buying a nice shiny, smooth Apple laptop if you're just going to be surfing the web.  Yes, an Apple laptop can, but if that's all you're going to do, why spend that much more money (unless the pretty is that much more important to you)?

The problem that comes up in those steps is with Quality.  Because we live in linear time, quality cannot be determined by looking at the item sitting on the store shelf.  It can only be guessed at by looking at the history of the model and manufacturer.  Have the people that had it before killed it inside a week?  Has the company been in the news because the BBB is investigating accusations of a shit product?

Yes, the steps can sometimes mix, but the most important part of shopping for anything is: Will it do what you want it to do.  Remember that when you're looking at the flashy ads for items you don't really need.

Note: this is just something I thought up a few minutes ago, it's not to be taken too seriously and definitively not as an insult to anyone for their shopping habits.  If you go shopping for a bag and all you care about is the name, then that is your compatibility.

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