In the sophisticated American marketplace in which brand = lifestyle, we’ve forgotten why brands evolved in the first place: as a promise of quality. Early packaged goods manufacturers needed to convince buyers that they could trust a non-local product; a brand was thus an assurance of consistency and quality. In today’s supermarket, you choose a product based on your lifestyle: soap for girls, soap for men, soap for kids, soap for rich people, soap for the eco-conscious. Your decision isn’t about quality assurance, it’s about lifestyle equivalency.
I learned today that brands in India should still be evaluated first for their promise of quality. Jenny mentioned last week my electric tiffin – something every office worker relies on to heat up his food. I bought the cheapest model. An unbranded model.
This afternoon I plugged it in under my desk, expecting the smell of Gunga’s delicious bhindi to soon drift up. Instead, the odor was that of plastic. Melting. And behold my lesson in consumer products for the day: the branded one costs more for a reason.