They Just Don't Make Things Like They Used To

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There's something inherently magical about your first "big girl bed" (or "big boy bed" if you're of the male variety). But when you awake to a busted spring--on your birthday, no less--it's hard not to find yourself back in the throes of reality. After nearly 20 years, my beautiful mattress decided to remind me I'm no longer a child, sending one lone coil jutting through the material and straight through my heart. (Yes, that may sound melodramatic, but the spring was quite literally poking through in the very place my chest lies each night.)

There's something inherently magical about your first "big girl bed" (or "big boy bed" if you're of the male variety). But when you awake to a busted spring--on your birthday, no less--it's hard not to find yourself back in the throes of reality. After nearly 20 years, my beautiful mattress decided to remind me I'm no longer a child, sending one lone coil jutting through the material and straight through my heart. (Yes, that may sound melodramatic, but the spring was quite literally poking through in the very place my chest lies each night.) Made long before the days of massive box springs, Tempur-Pedic's foam contraptions, and that Sleep Number nonsense, my mattress was positively glorious--the envy of my entire household! It was not some name brand; it was merely one of the generic options my parents had to choose from when purchasing the very bed I still sleep in today. Though hard to describe, the words sturdy, durable, and long-lasting come to mind. However, as all good things must come to an end, my poor baby reached its inevitable demise. Though we were able to bend the coil with pliers and return it from whence it came, the gaping hole now serves as a reminder that our time together shall be limited.

But, out of curiosity, we decided to explore today's mattress market just to see how what's on the floor now measures up to the quality of yesteryear. Not surprisingly, the current array of mattresses proved lackluster and disappointing. While foam dominates, those that still feature bedsprings were overly bouncy and weak.

Of course, I'm not as picky as I may sound. (If you can manage to get a good night's sleep on a dorm mattress, you can sleep soundly just about anywhere.) However, it did send me jetting back to the past, to a time when my grandfather would claim "they just don't make things like they used to." I may not be an 80-year-old man, but I do find myself mumbling these words more and more as the years pass. Most of today's goods and products, not just mattresses, fail to meet the high quality standards that were once the norm. It's as if no one takes pride in what they create anymore. They use cheaper materials and move at a faster pace in order to cut costs and drive profits.

Though a seemingly economical approach on the manufacturer or retailer's end, this inevitably means more money spent on the consumer's end. They must purchase the necessities--clothing, appliances, and furniture, for instance--far more often than the preceding generations. Things that once lasted for decades (i.e. my mattress) now only come with a projected lifespan of 5-7 years (according to the salesman on the showroom floor). It's terrible to think that, as the years pass, consumers pay more and more for items that grow increasingly inferior with each incarnation.

Nearly everything seems disposable, as if we've grown accustomed to shoddy products and their impermanence. While clothing and furniture from the past can still be found in vintage stores and antique shops, 95 percent of what we purchase today will end up on the side of the road during bulk pick-up season. If brands truly want to build strong relationships and long-term loyalty, perhaps they should look beyond their service strategies, focusing on the products themselves instead. Consumers will not return if they don't find your goods to be worth the investment. But, if your brand insists on putting care into creating quality goods, the effort will inevitably translate into care for each individual customer, as well.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION