As I've mentioned many times before here on MPDailyfix.com, I'm a believer that your brand is the experience your customers have with your product/service/employees/blog/whatever. One of those "things" that is important in an experience with your brand is quality.
For Father's Day, I requested a trip to one of my favorite restaurants called PF Changs. It's kind of like a chain-type Asian food restaurant. I would describe it as high-quality, not-fast-food type Chinese food.
My past experiences with PF Changs (about 4 other times over the last 5 years) have all been great, therefore I equated the brand with high-quality. I reserved trips to this restaurant for special occasions.
However, this past trip I noticed a few things. First off, I noticed that they stopped using nice white table cloths, which to me give a restaurant a touch of elegance as opposed to wood "wiped down with a wet cloth" tables. The second thing I noticed was that the portions were smaller by about 25%, I figure.
I'm going to guess in pure speculation here that the changes were made to reduce costs. Less money needing to be spent on cleaning table cloths and a reduction of portions to trim a few percentage points off the bottom line of materials. Those are guesses. I have zero facts to back them up.
To me, they quality of the experience was severely damaged. The PF Changs brand in my head is no longer a "special occasion" type of experience. The reduction in quality now makes me think of it as a place that's "ok, I guess". But I'm not going out of my way to go there anymore.
I've seen this happen many times before, and not just in restaurants. And everytime it happens to me I do the same thing. I stop evangelizing and purchasing from the brand in question.
You cannot reduce quality and expect to keep your brand intact. You're better off simply raising prices. Take a lead from companies like Jaguar. They don't "cut back" on their quality. In fact, they continue to make improvements in quality.
Do you have any examples of brands that have suffered from a quality reduction?
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