Sunday, March 16, 2014

10 Indicators of quality

Quality.  We all want it out of whatever good or service we have.  For some reason we think that we deserve the best.  Well, I got news for you.  You don't.  You deserve average at best, maybe a little worse.  Fortunately, that's what we all get usually.  But this is about Quality.  How do we decide what has quality or not?  Often our parents tell us what something of quality is.  We believe that like we believe everything else our parents tell us until we find our parents a less than reliable source.

1.  Made in the U.S.A. - I remember as a kid, this was a mark of quality.  It was how you knew something was built to last.  If it said made in China, it was junk.  Now if you had parents that came from other countries, you also gained an allegiance to that country's quality as well.  Apparently Finland makes good rifles.  But that's not all.  The made in mark also bears quality if it's struck from Japan or Germany.  Back in the 80's and 90's the cars that were built to last were Japanese/German.  Anything American built had better be a Truck.  That stereotype has lasted so long that even though the quality ratings have really evened out among most car manufacturers, it still remains.

2.  Hand Crafted - If something made in the U.S.A. is good, being hand crafted is even better.  Wow.  Made by the hand of a loving artisan.  Sure, I paid top dollar, but I got QUALITY.  In the old days when everything was made by hand because how else could you make it, there was a different phrase of both quality and effort.  Made from scratch.  Meaning all original ingredients or parts.  A cake made from scratch was of course going to be worlds apart from any pastry made out of a pre-mixed package.  You know, those little Chinese finger traps are hand crafted.  They don't last too much beyond the birthday party you got them at.

3.  Quality materials - This takes more time to decide and it is one of the most learned estimations we make.  Book cover?  Leather = high quality.  Furniture?  Leather and wood, the darker, the better. Toys?  Wood.  You are dealing with all wooden objects?  Teak or Walnut trumps Pine or Balsa.  Above all, avoid cheap plastic.  While I've often had things made of cheap plastic, I've never owned anything made of expensive plastic.

4.  If someone famous said it was good, it must be. -   Celebrity endorsements have been a long standing ingredient in advertising.  Sometimes they start to believe their own press and start endorsing other things that they aren't directly paid to do.  If a celebrity I like says something is good, it's just like a friend telling me their personal experience.  I've never sat on a bench seat that was finer than when it was made of rich Corinthian Leather.  Thanks Ricardo.

5.  Digital - Obviously anything recorded digitally will beat the socks off of anything recorded the other way.  That other way is analog and it's how our ears hear.  Doesn't matter though.  I know that anything worth it's salt in the sound waves, are being recorded digitally.  This came around as a way to sell these CD's all the kids were playing.  Shiny disc's that had the same sound over and over and over.  No more having parties at the first playing of a record because that will be its best play.  No more polishing diamond tips and wiping off turn table areas with special cloths.  Now of course we are slowly letting go of the CD as a medium, but the digital recording still remains.

6.  German Engineering - One of the many stereotypes that nobody seems to be complaining about.  If you are German, it is assumed that you must be a good engineer.  Along the same lines as if you are tall and black, you must be a good basketball player, or if you are Jewish, you make a good investment banker or jeweler.  Yep, stereotypes one and all.  Doesn't stop German car companies from saying 'German Engineering' in nearly every commercial they aired from the 80's to the turn of the Century and beyond.  Even other stereotypes have benefited from their German roots.  The Amish are just the Germans that lead a selfless life devoid of convenience and technology and make good space heaters. Also count on the Swiss to make watches and clocks.  In America the Swiss, Germain and Austrian countries should have been called Germauswiss.  Because we kind of think they are in the same place.

7.  Disney - You know Disney has never made a bomb, ever.  Nope, not one.  Just because you are a household name, doesn't make you a good household name.  You need to have quality associated with you.  Disney has it in spades.  What, you're going to bring up the 80's for Animation?  Sit down.  The black hole?  Shut up you.  Failed attempts at a historical theme park in Virgina?  Messing up the legal system by claiming copyright on characters that should have been in the public domain decades ago?  Hey, you can't control the quality if you can't control who owns the characters.  Bottom line is, when it comes to entertainment, you look to Disney.

8.  All Natural Ingredients - I love this one.  It appeals to the idiot in all of us.  When you hear all natural, you envision some straw hat wearing farmer straight out of The Grapes of Wrath hand picking each ingredient and placing them in his canvas bag, talking to the honey bees along the way and stopping for a moment to wipe the sweat off of his sun drenched brow and drink a swallow of well water from a ladle.  Now THOSE granola bars have quality.  Never eat anything you can't pronounce!  We have whole stores dedicated to this bit of quality assumption.  Brimming with food that looks smaller and spoils faster than it's 'big box' counterparts.  But you know it's got quality!

9.  Swiss Chocolate - Chocolate has a quality marker.  I'm afraid Hershey's isn't it.  Hershey is to Swiss chocolate (notice one has a name brand, the other couldn't be more general) as a Yugo is to an entry level Nissan.  No real comparison.  Of course, there are the Belgians, Germans and Dutch with their own chocolates.  There are those that still prefer Hershey's brand and once Hershey bought Cadbury (English) they got a lot more candy recipes.  I on the other hand tend to prefer Swedish chocolate.  So this whole point is lost on me.  I only know that if you are looking for Cocoa they didn't call it Swiss Miss just because it rhymed.

10. Longevity - Often, when we have no other means of determining a product or service's quality, we will go to the longevity of the company offering it.   Companies know this.  That's why you'll see something on the company front that says EST 1998 or something like that when they are young to tell us in a flurry of mixed phrases, 'Hey, we're not just some wet behind the ears Johnny come lately, we've been around the block and this ain't our first rodeo'.  Companies that have gone on long enough go from being recognized, to being household names.  If you are lucky, your brand name will become THE name.  Kleenex is a good example.  A while back a refrigerator was called a frigidare not a refrigerator.  Now it's just a fridge.

Well, I hope you find this blog of some quality.  If not, then you'll have to put up with quantity.  But not that much.  in another 15 days or so.

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