After-Sales: The unreviewable, unquantifiable element that makes buying decisions a matter of luck

Mar 23 2014, 11:58 IST
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What do we do when faced with a new entrant. Would you buy it over a more well-known brand? What do we do when faced with a new entrant. Would you buy it over a more well-known brand?
SummaryWhat do we do when faced with a new entrant. Would you buy it over a more well-known brand?

Pleased. Terrible. Notorious. Improved. Not one of those words has any quantifiable unit or any universal meaning. What they represent is going to be subjective. Yet this is the feedback we rely on when making a decision about what to buy.

Invariably, it leaves us so confused that we turn to flawed transitivity: bigger is better. “If HTC is a bigger and more well-known brand than Karbonn, then that must mean HTC has better service than Karbonn.” It’s not always wrong, mind you, but there is no evidence to support that it is right.

And full confession: as a tech reviewer, I rely on the same flawed data and the same flawed logic to suggest buying a bigger brand over an unknown one. Because bigger brands are more familiar to us through advertising and other marketing exercises, we naturally tend to find them more familiar and, because of that, more trustworthy. It’s human to do that.

At This Point, It’s All About Luck

So what do we do when faced with a new entrant in the mobile space, like Atom Mobiles? The new Atom Supremus is a pretty good phone, but at Rs. 17,000, would you buy it over a more well-known brand like Samsung or even Micromax?

The answer to that question is all about your risk-taking ability. We think big brands reduce risk and small brands increase risk, so depending on how much value Rs. 17,000 holds for you, you will either take or abstain from that risk. We try to understand that risk better by reading a review of the phone, or researching the company selling it, or reading customer feedback on e-commerce sites, or checking sites decidedly about product feedback. But all of these still don’t give an honest picture—at best, it’s an educated guess, and that’s if you’re lucky.

In a nutshell, your buying decision is not only about the actual merit of the phone against a competitor, it’s about the perceived legitimacy of the brand and the unquantifiable, intangible, unexplainable risk quotient you are comfortable with. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s no foreseeable solution on the horizon. But recognizing and admitting the flaw in the buying system is perhaps the first step in being a better buyer.

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