Jan 11, 2006

Are you a Brand-name Babe?

This morning at ScrapBiz, a member posted a message and said that they were looking on a distributor's website for a Heidi Swapp mini iron. They found it, but then kept looking and found one in brown, not pink, for MUCH less than the HS-branded one.

I don't begrudge anyone their "brand". Everyone is trying to make their brand a house-hold name. That's what you do when you own a business. But, brands drive this industry like brands drive the fashion industry and I think consumers sometimes think THAT brand actually invented THAT product. When, in fact, much of what is found in the scrapbook industry comes from the craft industry and is made by a handful of companies in China.

Would you buy the off-brand mini-iron if you saw it in your LSS? Or would you by-pass it and ask for the Heidi Swapp one? It's exactly the same and about half the price. Would you buy the Craft Robo over the Wishblade if it were a lot less? Would you buy paper that was cute, but had no brand name? Would you buy chip-board letters cut by a mom with a cutter who is running a business out of her home or would you feel the need to have Bazzill ones?

I have been looking at some Chinese manufacturer websites this week. There are TONS of companies making brand-less scrapbook products in China. Many of these manufacturers will put any brand you want on their products. Consequently, I have found much of the stuff found at Dollar Tree on these sites - but with another label on them.

For instance, I found the paper above. Note the topper - the logo they have put on it looks suspiciously like the K&Co logo. I have also found tons of hand-made three dimensional stickers similar to Jolee's. As a side note, the Jolee's stuff has been around for years. I remember seeing it as a child. It was branded "White Mountain" (if I remember correctly) and you could get it at shops in China Town in Seattle. I bought some for my doll-house as a child.

So, what if you could get cute paper for 20 cents a sheet? Embellishments for a dollar? Some of the hot tools out there in another color or with no brand on them for half the price? Would you do it? Or, are you driven by the brand and somehow feel it's "better".

I was in Nordstroms the other day and was shocked to see the prices on some of the purses. The Coach ones are outrageously priced (and REALLY ugly for the most part). Come on - $650 for a purse???? There was a pink plasticky looking backpack with a Kate Spade label on it. It was $225. I swear I've seen the same thing at Target for $14.99. One time I went to the children's half-yearly sale to look for some church shoes for my oldest son (he's got wide feet and Nordstrom carries wides - I don't normally shop there, though.). I was looking at the racks fo sales clothes and found a pair of dress pants - the exact same pair of pants - I had bought at Target for $12.99. These were on sale for $35 - normal price about double that. They had a TINY Tommy Hilfiger label sewn on them. I KNOW they were the same pants because they had a "distinctive" color of lining in the waistband. They were made in the same factory, yet, one went to "discount land" and the other went to "Tommy-ville" and got a hefty price increase due to the TINY little red, white and blue label on the back.

So, next time you are faced with a brand vs. no brand decision, consider the fact that, really, most of it comes off the same assembly line in China. One set goes to the right and gets a BRAND NAME label put on it. The other set goes to the left and gets no brand put on it. But, it will be sold for much less.

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