I have been asked this question a few times so I thought it’s high time I gave a proper explanation. What makes one product really cheap and another one more expensive?
Product Price and Product Quality
Yes, there is definitely a correlation between the quality of a product and the price but it isn’t a perfect relationship – something that costs £20 isn’t necessarily two times better than a £10 product.
That said, some products are cheap for a reason: they use cheap quality ingredients that neither nourish your hair nor your body.
Case in point, I was in a Poundland (think, The Dollar Store) – basically as budget as it gets and I saw a 250ml product of “Body Butter” – I couldn’t believe it. There is no way you can produce a body butter that cheaply no matter what your volumes are. So I picked up the bottle to read the ingredients and true to form there was only one vegetable butter on the list and it was very far down the list of ingredients suggesting there wasn’t much of it in there.
Ultimately the product was called a butter because they had created a buttery texture but most of it was water and factory made ingredients.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with most factory ingredients and anything that comes in a can or bottle even Mayo and beans has to contain some form preservation; however, having too much of them reduces the benefits to hair (and skin) compared to a product that use a healthy balance of both farmed and manufactured inputs.
A balance needs to be achieved between hair benefits and prolonged shelf life.
Sometimes A Cheap Price Hides Another Story
Another case in point: I bought a bottle of “Pure Jojoba” because the price was uniquely low; it was too good to be true, I just had to have it.
When I got home I thought the product smelt a little “off”. A look at the ingredients list confirmed it wasn’t jojoba but a jojoba and grapeseed oil blend – the product label was lying on the front, calling itself “Pure Jojoba” when it wasn’t!
Grapeseed oil is a good oil but it is cheaper than jojoba and has different benefits. I wanted jojoba for the unique benefits that it offers so I was annoyed and disappointed. The price was too good to be true for a reason.
Product Price & Unique Ingredients
When it comes to product making the more unique the ingredients you use the more expensive the product will be. Shampoo is a good example here.
Because sulfates were so widely used in shampoo (and they still are) using them as a cleanser is really brings down the cost of making a shampoo. Once consumers switched on to the fact that sulfates were too strong a cleanser for dry hair types and possibly had other negative effects some businesses decide to use alternative cleansers.
Using a cleanser other than a sulfate pushes the price up. Some alternative cleansers, e.g. cocamidopropyl betaine, have grown in usage so they are more widely available and therefore more affordable to use as a product ingredient.
That said, milder cleansers are still being developed. Choosing to use a non-mainstream ingredient to improve product quality hikes the product price right up.
How The Big Dogs Keep Prices Low
There are three ways that big manufacturers keep prices down:
Product Price and Experience
Some companies want to provide more than just a product to a customer. They want to provide a great experience, great customer service and a fabulous customer relationship. To provide this extra service their product will cost more.
Product Price and Status
Last but certainly not least, some customers want to buy products to show their status a little or to feel different to the masses. If you feel you work harder than most people then you want products most people cannot afford. You want a branded hair or body product that shows you care about quality. You don’t want “good enough” products, you want “best in category” products.
Have you ever had a friend who goes from being on your level and all of a sudden they get a job paying them triple? They get a new place to live and when you go over to the house warming party everything in their place tells you upfront, I’m on another level now. Even the hand wash in the bathroom is a superior and exclusive brand. You look on in admiration and just think, I need to work hard and get myself nice stuff like this.
Premium products differentiate themselves by going above and beyond on product packaging as well as other small branding elements that the premium consumer cares about. It’s why you choose to buy a Mercedes Benz over a Toyota when they both do exactly the same thing.
In summary, a product may be more expensive because:
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I was a natural hair blogger and mixtress living between London & Chicago from 2012 to 2017. I always thought I was 4C but some say 4B; images below - you decide! Heather xx