Think of a product you regularly use. There are undoubtedly both better quality products and worse products out there. There are also cheaper and more expensive products, but the cheap ones aren’t necessarily the worse ones and the expensive ones are not necessarily the good ones.
Sometimes there is temptation to try new products, which is normal, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But be careful of tradeup conversations. How often have you heard something like this?
Jeez, are you still drinking regular coffee? There’s this company in Hawaii that makes the best coffee in the world. They train monkeys to swing from branch to branch to pick it so that the soil around the roots isn’t compacted by feet. The monkeys even eat only organic produce! They only use organic compost which is gathered from organic farms that only buy organic fair trade fertilizer. They water the coffee trees with Fiji water too so you don’t get any of those off alkali hard water non-organic free radical blah blah blah….
I don’t debate that the coffee might be the best in the world, I just don’t care! I’m completely satisfied with my coffee, and am immune to both the novelty seeking angle and the best of the best argument (think Donald Trump talking about anything). I’m happy to test my daily products against other ones. My policy is to only comparison shop downhill. If I need to go uphill, I’ll know, and there’s no reason to train myself into it.
- Bourbon: I used to buy midrange Bourbon, around $25-$40 a bottle (it’s cheap here in Kentucky) and was completely happy. Then one day I tried Heaven Hill Black- about $7.99 for a 750mL bottle. That stuff is really good! In fact, to my taste, it’s exactly the same (meaning that I can’t pick the cheaper from the more expensive one blindly and though they are slightly different, equally good to me). Given that I was satisfied completely with the midrange stuff, it would have been foolish to try it repeatedly against more expensive bourbon and train myself to differentiate. The old me might have said it’s better to buy the expensive stuff since it’s a disincentive to consume, but the new me has the sense to drink less… of the cheaper stuff. I really enjoy tasting and trying better, nicer bourbons socially, but I have no desire to stock my pantry with them. I don’t need to go uphill.
- Generic anything: There’s a certain signaling that comes with buying name brand products, both to others and to yourself. In marketing class, we learned that there are two kinds of people- those who believe name brand is better and those who believe name brand and store brand are essentially the same. I’d say there is a third category of people like me, who strongly suspect that name brand and store brand are the same but don’t really care if they are slightly differentiated, quality wise. I have never found a reason to go uphill from store brands. In marketing, it’s interesting to note that there is NEVER talk about quality, all that matters and exists is perceived quality.
- Everything is a commodity: If you’re using a product, chances are it is made from other products. Going far enough up the food chain, most food starts out as water, nitrogen in the air and trace elements in the ground. For non-food products, most stuff is wood, elemental metal, or fossil fuel oil (aka plastics). Rather than testing one product against another, try moving a step down the value chain. A great example is oatmeal. Some people in my office buy the $4 oatmeal from Starbucks. Some people take a step back and buy the little packets of oatmeal with (somewhat mysterious) flavoring powder in them. I’ve started buying the huge $8 containers of rolled oats from Costco, and they last me for high single-digit months. I can’t take it much further up the commodity chain without crossing the consumer-producer line. And eating oats HORSE STYLE (no cream no sugar) is healthier than any of the other alternatives, general carbs aside. I’ve slid down the chain to bulk rolled oats, and have no interestin going back uphill.
So I’ll be happy to try a blind taste test, but I’ll only do it purposefully for entertainment or to consider swapping down. There are plenty of things vying for my attention and (potentially) money, and there’s no reason in my world to subject myself to more. An underdeveloped palate is among the greatest assets in consumer soceity!