Value for money or VFM is the most widely used term while buying anything. However, most of the time, it is just another marketing gimmick.
People go to shop for an air conditioner. After shortlisting 3-4 air conditioners, they ask the shopkeeper – “which is best? In terms of value for money?”
Do you expect the shopkeeper to tell you that –“Oh? These all are shits. They will screw your electricity bill. All are same. Purchase the cheapest one”. Of course not. He will confuse you more by showing you their star ratings, auto on/off feature, temperature sensing capability (btw, he forgets to tell you that almost all the AC’s have these facilities) and lots of other things. He will stress only on few companies saying that these are best. Actually, these are really good, but for the shop keeper. He would earn maximum commission from these companies. Since, not all companies do not offer a similar commission; don’t expect an honest answer from him.
If you ask me – “then how are we supposed to find out the true value for money?” The answer is – “there is no general rule or general answer”. Taking the same example: If you are going to use the air conditioner only during the summers i.e. For 4 months, the star ratings should not bother you. Just pick the one whose name you have heard many times and is the cheapest. Value for money usually deviates from person to person and product to product. Note that both the conditions (i.e. Person and product) are equally important.
Person to person:
When we say person to person, we also mean his financial capacity and his habits. I have highlighted in my earlier posts, how a person like me who was happy with the moderate or normal cost hotels suddenly started seeing value in 3 star kind of hotels. Read that here. Similarly, today I travel by local train since it is the cheapest. However, tomorrow my priorities may change. I could certainly start seeing value in company transport. The company bus provides point to point travel, in your company timings, and you are surrounded by your colleagues. Hence, your travel not only becomes comfortable, but also safe. This comes at higher cost than public transport and we are bonded by the fixed timings of the buses.
Take another example. In your younger days, you are quite excited to drop your car at the service centre and pick it from there. Ask plenty of questions to the serviceman. Check each and every part of the car. However, in your old age days, you would see value for money in asking the service center charge you some money to take and drop your car off the service center. It rescues them from the hassle of going to the service center, filling up the forms, waiting for your number to come, come back by auto. Next day, visit again the service center by auto, make payment, again fill some feedback forms and then get the car key. The extra money that they pay for the service center guy avoids all these hassles.
Product to product:
Let us discuss with an example. Two sets of shoes from different companies would never have the same value for money. The leather and sole of some companies like Woodland lasts at least 4 to 5 years (if not more). However, these ever lasting shoes would mean nothing for the jogging enthusiast. They would prefer some other brand which has soft cushioning, flexible sole and net for air to circulate inside the shoes.
Another example – A building by local builder which is a stand alone building with no fancy gym or something. Just a house to stay. On the contrary, houses built by premium builders have a swimming pool, gym, garden, etc. For a common man whose priority is to reach office on time, these facilities may not seem to be value for money. However, for higher middle class people, the extra facilities may tilt the deal in their favour.
Hence, we must always check what the value is for many of the product by checking its usefulness to us and not to the seller.