I have to buy a washing machine; after almost 30 years, my Maytag died. In doing my shopping research I have learned a lot. Maytag was bought by Whirlpool and they no longer put the emphasis on the inner workings but on the bells and whistles that they think consumers want. Plus if it lasts 10 years that’s a miracle. I also found out the new front loaders are so low you almost have to buy the stands which can add $200 to the price. For a stand?!? Yikes!
If you do the math $500-$1000 for a washer that lasts 10 years breaks down to $1 or so a load. Not a huge amount, but it leads to a question of planned obsolescence. Ok, so I tend to keep things longer than many and am not the one swayed by the latest gadgets. My good friend Judy couldn’t believe I had my father’s old Sony Trinitron TV in my office for as long as I did and she generously gave me a new flat screen TV her friend was tossing. (He bought a much bigger one)
So if we are buying items more often, which is a business model for the manufacturer, not the public, what does that say about quality? The iPhone keeps adding new gadgets etc to get people to buy new models. Are new add-ons just a way to raise prices? Is the Maytag repairman no longer needed because we have a mindset that it’s better to buy new than to fix current? Do we expect things to be a poorer quality? Does this carry over to service, not just products?
It seems we may have created a new model for purchases. Even though we tout six sigma, lean manufacturing, and ISO 9000 to reduce errors in manufacturing, overall the product itself is not expected to last as long as it’s predecessors. Where will your product or service fit into the new model?