A Tale of Two Products

Many products these days are just plain crappy. Stuff is made out of what I like to call “Chinesium.” A screw driver made out of Chinesium is dull after the first few uses and you end up buying a new one, spending the money twice.

Here are two products that made a significant difference in my life over many years:

On the left you see my Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush. On the right are my GoodFeet orthotics.

I bought my first Sonicare, a predecessor model of this one, almost 20 years ago, and it lasted about 10 years before it died. Then I got another one, and that lasted 10 years. This one here is the next generation. Ironically, this one died within a year and I have another one yet again – but that’s another story. My point is that using an electric toothbrush made a gigantic difference for my oral health and hygiene, and I wish I had had one as a child. My teeth, due to neglect of care and probably outright bad nutrition in the Germany of the 1960s, were full of fillings by the time I turned 20. Then I spent 20 years with  my trusted dentist fixing things up, and the final 20 years just maintaining the status – and much of it thanks to the Sonicare.

When I was in my mid thirties, my feet started hurting badly to the point where I could no longer hike and walking was painful. I was lucky to find a good podiatrist who custom made orthotics for me, and I have worn them in my shoes ever since. The orthotics were a miracle cure. I was better overnight. And I am an avid hiker and walker to this day. No pain – but I need my orthotics. The custom units the podiatrist made for me cost a lot of money at the time, and lasted maybe 10 years, before they broke. My doctor had retired by then, and I found the GoodFeet store and bought myself a set off the shelf. They cost about $200 at the time, and the ones you see in the photo above are still that first pair. I would say that pair is now 30 years old. They are indestructible. And they are still the same miracle cure. I will probably never need to buy another pair, and since they are always in my shoes, there is no chance I’ll ever lose them, either.

Here is the tale: Both of these product are miracle cures.

The toothbrushes are now made out of Chinesium. The last one literally only held up for a year before it no longer worked. Since they “only” cost about $100, I hadn’t kept warranty documents, so I just bought another one – keeping the receipt this time. However, you have to change the heads out every few months. It’s like the razor and the blade. It’s the brush heads that cost some $30 for a set of three and that’s how Philips makes its money. What a racket business model!

In contrast, the orthotics are just as miraculous and important, but there are no blades, no brush heads, and they last forever. GoodFeet is a great company with an amazing product, but I have no need to buy their product ever again – it’s that good.

I can’t help it that there is a difference between one product and another, one making an ongoing revenue stream, and the other being just one-time sales.

Pick your product well when you start a company!

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