The gray market: the American consumer’s weapon against quality shaving

Mark over at Illusion of Prosperity has a great post where he describes what I call “quality shaving”.

A commenter had written:

The JCP (JC Penney) CEO also said that sales of basic goods were weak this quarter because of less demand. Not exactly. I bought one item the last quarter – socks for my hubby. They cost the same as the previous socks but were half the quality. I was going to buy him pants too, but when I realized the fabric was half the thickness for the same price(he wears heavy duty cargo pants – construction work), I passed. So if it weren’t for customer loyalty/ stupidity/ or something, sales of basic goods wouldn’t have even been as high as they were.”

Mark adds:

“It would seem that JC Penney’s plan is a “cheap” trick. Consumers neither “want” nor “need” overpriced socks at half the quality? Who knew?

It seems to me that the invisible inflation of crappier products without reduced price is everywhere. I think this will push the consumer towards a craigslist economy: finding older, better quality used goods to buy in the secondhand or “gray market” and avoiding retail altogether.

Mark’s “Good Enough” Revolution post from 2009 is relevant as well:

“Lock in that quality of today, today. That’s my thinking. I doubt it gets any better in the future, especially if our country continues its debt-based decline.

Here’s the current conversation, and I agree with it.

“Your old electric kettle worked for 5-7 years? – Buy a new one and it would leak in a year or so.”

Will the following be the conversation of the future?

“Your old electric kettle worked for a year or so? – Buy a new one and it would leak in a month or so.”

Hey, just a thought! A VERY scary thought!”

Quality shaving is another shortsighted tactic by corporate executives to pump quarterly numbers at the expense of long term business viability for manufacturers of consumer goods.


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