Monday, February 16, 2015

The Frugal Shaver's Perspective

A fellow contacted me by email, responding to my blog articles and noting that I tend to focus on inexpensive stuff. He suggested that he would be interested in reading my reviews of more premium products. I took the time to write him a reply, and it occurred to me that part of that email might be appropriate for this weblog. So here is some of that content:

I do tend to focus on cheaper products. Many years ago, when I got my first degree, which was in business/marketing (I subsequently studied mechanical engineering and dietetics), I came to really understand the link between product image and price. Sometimes a higher price buys you better quality and features, sometimes not. Sometimes better quality and more features matter, sometimes not. Sometimes a high price tag just buys you image. (Take Gray Goose vodka, for example, which proclaimed itself "the best tasting vodka in the world!" Yet vodka, by legal definition, has no taste! Hmmm, marketing hype -- which costs the purchaser an arm and a leg. But interestingly, many of us like our purchases better when we spend more.) So I guess since those early university days I've focused on finding products that deliver the necessary/desirable features and benefits without the premium price tag.

Some non-shaving examples from my life: in my family, we tend to drive Ford and Honda vehicles, not their up-scale marques, Lincoln and Acura. In 1950, Cadillac manufacturing tolerances were superior to other makes -- even those in the GM line; but today, one is paying for image along with features. The trick for me is figuring out which are worth the investment and ignoring the psychological ones. My tennis racquets are designed for top players, but I don't play Wilson or Babolat or even Prince brands because they tend to be 20-150% more expensive than my three Head Microgel racquets, which are EXCELLENT racquets and totally suitable for very good players.

In shaving, after almost a year of trying various razors (admittedly lower-end except for my Gillette Slim Adjustable and a trio of Merkur models), I've fallen in love with almost the cheapest razor available, the Rimei RM2003, which can be had for $4 (U.S.) but gives me literally the best shaves of every razor I've tried -- and the truth is, I don't think it can get better; so why would I, personally, spend more for the same or less? I would enjoy testing more upscale razors just to see where their value lies (in image or performance?), but the costs for me are prohibitive. If you know of a way that I can wheedle test products out of manufacturers without purchasing, please let me know.

As for brushes, I use three: an Omega synthetic, a Tweezerman badger, and a Van Der Hagen boar. Though the VDH was my first purchase of the three, it has once again become my favorite, having just enough backbone yet with the soft split ends of the tips being very face friendly. I can't imagine a better functioning brush, so why spend the money?

I'm not knocking premium products and premium prices; it just isn't my style, when avoidable. There are times when I do buy premium: footware, for example -- I've found in shoes and boots, you do get what you pay for.

This is why I often label myself the frugal shaver.

Happy shaving (and question everything -- including value for the price ;-)!

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