We have all heard the phrase “quality over quantity.” Generally people agree it is better to buy one quality item over several cheap items.
I believe there are two different approaches to this concept of quality when purchasing a new item.
Buy the best quality product based on the assumption that you will use it a lot. This approach also assumes the quality somehow helps you use it a lot because it is such a superior product. People typically believe the quality of the item makes them use it.
Buy a cheaper “value” product and “earn” the higher quality product. This approach says you should prove to yourself that you will use the product enough to justify the higher quality version later. People who follow this approach typically buy cheaper items and use them until they break. Then they decide between repurchasing the value product or upgrading to a higher quality product.
Both of these approaches can work in different situations.
Approach #1 worked for us when purchasing a Hydro Flask water bottle several years ago. We knew they were expensive compared to other water bottles, but they accomplished the goal of keeping our water and ice cold in the desert heat.
This is when the first approach works best–when the cheaper version does not actually accomplish the task you need. (In our case, cold water and ice).
Approach #2 has worked for us in most other purchases.
Most notably Kevin’s Mongoose Mountain bike from Walmart.
He purchased the bike over 3 years ago and it was approximately $100. Shortly after purchasing the bike he began commuting to work on it, logging 120+ miles per week for several months.
Although he did not continue this high mileage every week, he probably logged over 5,000 miles on that bike in the three year span.
The bike finally broke a couple weeks ago. It had athletic tape for handle bars and the tires were worn bald.
That bike was used and loved and pushed to its limits. It accomplished what we needed it to.
Whether Kevin chooses to upgrade his bike is his decision. But he proved that he will use any bike he buys.
He built up to the quality.
While I do believe quality matters, I also believe we have many opportunities to start smaller and build up to quality.
It is satisfying to use an item until it breaks.
It is satisfying to buy a value item and realize it actually works just fine.
And it is equally satisfying to buy a value item, use it until it breaks, and then upgrade to a higher quality.