Why Do Americans Insist On Buying Cheap Crap Instead Of High Quality Merchandise?

Over at MSN Money there’s an interesting article about the tyranny of cheap crap that we, as a people, are accustomed to living under. Why do we buy a coat every year instead of one high quality coat that will last many years? Why do we buy crappy kitchen knives that go dull and become dangerous? Do we enjoy shopping so much that we’re content to keep rebuying the same stuff?

From MSN Money:

Part of the issue is in the market itself, with the spread of mass production and wide availability of consumer credit. But consumers are also less knowledgeable, explains Paco Underhill, president and CEO of market research consultancy Envirosell and author of “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping.”

Americans in their 20s and 30s are now at least one generation removed from the era of homemade clothing and hand-crafted wood furniture, Underhill says. “In the 1950s, 90% of homes had sewing machines, which means women knew something about how clothes were put together. They could look at something in the store and tell if was of good construction or crappy construction,” he says. “In my office, I don’t know anyone who has bought a custom suit. They don’t know the difference between off-the-rack and custom.”

This reminds me of a post we did awhile back that talked about the buying habits of millionaires. They buy things gently used or they buy high quality new merchandise. They don’t waste money on cheap crap. I’m not a millionaire, but you don’t need to be in order to shop smart. The MSN Money article offers some tips on which items to buy “cheap” and which ones not to. Here are a few:

* Mattress: SPLURGE. You sit, sleep and God knows what else on this item. Get a good one.

* Men’s dress shirt: SKIMP. If your suit is well-tailored and the tie spectacular, the shirt will be an afterthought.

* Chef’s knife: SPLURGE. One 8-inch chef’s knife is all you need.

It’s good advice, but we don’t think you should think of it as “splurging.” It’s not irresponsible or decadent to buy a quality item that you can use for decades at a reasonable price. (Of course, just because a product is expensive doesn’t mean it is high quality…) And remember, if an item is high quality, sometimes can buy it used!

Which products do you “invest” in for the long term?

Should you skimp . . . or splurge? [MSNMoney]
(Photo: big-film )