When someone is looking for cheap, what do they really want?

Cheap is one of those words that has a stigma attached to it. As consumers we’re often looking for something cheaper, but as a business owner would you be insulted if someone classed you as cheap? I thought it might be interesting to explore the line between value for money and cheap, and what customers really want.

I saw a thread recently on social media that surprised me. Someone had deliberately posted asking for a “cheap local” service and it seemed to annoy quite a few businesses. So I thought I’d speak to a local business to find out why.

I asked dog groomer, Rachel, for her thoughts. She told me that if she sees someone looking for ‘cheap’, she tends to not get involved. She stated that, “From experience it’s a warning sign that you could be in for hassle from the customer.”

She explained, “If someone states ‘does anyone know of a decent dog groomer’ then I would always tag myself. I know and trust that they want a good service and they understand how the costs work. When someone asks for cheap it’s normally a warning sign that you could be in for a bumpy ride. They may barter or even say well such and such does it at this price. But I ask, why aren’t they using them then?”

Price vs Quality

I couldn’t help but think about this person searching and how they’re deliberately looking for cheap, but do they still then demand the best possible service? You see it all the time. People search for cheap holidays but then want sea view rooms and five star luxury when they get there. It’s like we’ve forgotten that you pay for what you get. Instead it seems our expectations are very high but we want to pay as little as possible for it.

Sometimes do we even know what we’re paying for? If you’re getting a quote from a field that you have no idea about, how can you tell what accreditations matter if they don’t mean anything to you?

This reminded me of when I was younger and I was comparing stereos in the magazines for the first time. At the start I knew nothing but it didn’t take long before I’d become this expert, comparing stats against cost. You look at the numbers given and what they tell you, and then you weigh up the option of what the extra cost is compared to the worth of the DB on the stereos. But you can only do it with this new found knowledge. I had to put the work in first to know what value I was getting.

Tough Competition

It’s tough running a business today. No matter what field you’re in, there is competition. And when customers are looking for the cheapest it makes it even more difficult. We can’t always afford to turn down business, but quality comes at a cost. If you’re skilled at your job or you offer a well manufactured product, you shouldn’t have to compromise on price. But does that then mean you’re missing out because your less able competitor is knocking 50% off? Is that fair? Or is that just life?

Or should you just stick it out as buying cheap can’t be a sustainable strategy. Surely eventually it’s a false economy and the customer will come back looking for better?

I think value for money is what customers should be searching for. It’s about getting the best deal that gives you a balance of a reasonable price against the quality you’re receiving. But the only way to be sure of value is to do your research. Just like I did for the stereos. Check reviews, ask for previous jobs and try to make sound decisions from as many facts as you can. I suppose as business owners we then protect ourselves by making as many of these facts as readily available as possible.

I’d love to know your thoughts. Do you avoid cheap? How do you see yourself in the market? Is there a right and wrong, or does it just come down to what’s best for your business?

I would like to thank Rachel for a great chat today and an input into the exciting world of dog grooming. She does an excellent mobile service and can be found at

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