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Thread: How to find equivalents (different brand/cost, same product)?

  1. #1

    Default How to find equivalents (different brand/cost, same product)?

    Hey all,

    I've been learning about how many products of different brands are actually the same thing (same manufacturer, different names/brands). Notable examples are sunglasses and mattresses.

    I imagine the same thing is true for furniture in general. While I don't mind paying extra for quality, I cannot stand the thought of paying extra for brand names, and would rather pick furniture based on the quality of the manufacturer build.

    I'd also love to be able to test a piece of furniture at a high end store, and then buy exactly the same thing online at a much lower markup, knowing it's exactly the same feel/build quality.

    What's the best way to get at this information? Obviously, the big stores would never reveal that their line of sofas come from manufacturer X, also available at (say) Wayfair under a different name and for half the price. However... I know the information is out there... somewhere. :-)

    Here's a quick example I just searched for - I hope linking external sites is okay here:

    I'd love to hear from the savvy furniture shoppers with more experience in this!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Alexandria VA

    Default Re: How to find equivalents (different brand/cost, same product)?

    Good luck with your project. What you will find is high-end makers don't do that. You are correct it is done in lower-end product, mostly imports.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum
    I ask that you do NOT call my store with general furniture questions, that is what the forum is for

  3. #3

    Default Re: How to find equivalents (different brand/cost, same product)?

    Thanks! Yeah, I figured the cross-pollination wouldn't be as egregious as, say, the sunglasses industry *cough*Luxottica*cough*

    I actually still think the lower-end stuff isn't that bad of an investment. I mean, a lower end piece of furniture can easily last 5 years. Will paying 10x the amount for a high end piece that's similarly-shaped and is very comfortable to me, get me 50 years? Maybe... but if they don't give me a 30 year warranty out of the box, I can't take their higher prices too seriously.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Columbus, OH

    Default Re: How to find equivalents (different brand/cost, same product)?

    The higher end piece will be nicer looking and more comfortable, what that is worth is subjective and up to you. The environmental costs of producing throw-away furniture are high, with the state of our planet hopefully you care about that at least a little bit too.

    What would you want a 30 year warranty on? Frame defects is about the only thing I can think a furniture maker MIGHT consider for that long. Everything else is too much up to how the consumer uses and takes care of the item.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    NW Pennsylvania

    Default Re: How to find equivalents (different brand/cost, same product)?

    There's plenty of articles and posts on here by Duane and others detailing what to look for in furniture build and finish that would help you figure out what to look for. I know some posts will state brand x and brand y are very similar in most things but the fit and finish on brand x may be a cut above. I wish you luck on your quest and wanted to add that IMO usually a well built piece of furniture under normal use should give someone 10-15 years of good use possibly longer.
    Last edited by Briant73; 02-13-2020 at 11:18 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Alexandria VA

    Default Re: How to find equivalents (different brand/cost, same product)?

    This thread reminds me of an ad I saw in today's Wall Street Journal, sort of a "conspiracy theory" of selling. The Big Companies are out to get all your money, but this guy - he's got the plan for you - buy the watch billionaires buy for $ 39 (rolling eyes). What do you suppose that ad costs in national distribution of the WSJ? I'm guessing $ 6,000. You have to sell a lot of watches to cover that ad price. I'm SURE the watches are very high quality (sarcasm)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Furniture making is a margin/time/material business. There is no "secret" way of making things (there's that conspiracy theory again), every maker knows how to do it the right way. You have cost of materials to go into the product, a labor charge to produce it, and methods as to how long it takes to get it out the door. Then there are fixed cost overhead items such as buildings/equipment/insurance etc., that apply to all producers. The OP assumes there is a high profit built into branding, but the truth is there is not much put into that at all. The bulk of costs are still those three segments. Materials / Labor Cost / Time. To put together an "unbranded" product doesn't save in any of those three areas, so there is no incentive to do that other than to fill production time in your factory if you have no backlog of orders.

    Many of the higher end companies will build for stores as private label, however that doesn't result in a less expensive price to the consumer and they those private label items are still as costly to make as the branded product. It's just the consumer can't cross shop them as they are only available to that store - the result is a higher retail. I could very easily have all the pieces in my store sold as "The Keeping Room", I would just have to supply the labels and tweak a design element to an existing design, it's done all the time. Then I can charge more as it can't be cross-shopped. But I see value in the reputation of a name, so I don't do that. I also know I have some of the best pricing in the country so I don't fear cross-shopping from consumers. If they can find a better deal, go for it.

    If a maker wants to reduce the cost of the build in furniture he has to do the following:

    1) Cut the quality of the materials.
    2) Reduce the materials used or get a higher yield from them.
    3) Reduce the cost of your labor force, hire less-trained workers.
    4) Subcontract your frame builds to large jobbers.
    5) Go overseas and not use American labor.
    6) Find production shortcuts to reduce time in the build.
    7) Control your fixed overhead

    There is a balance to be had on all these items. Add up what it costs you as a maker to build a piece through a time / material study, then add a margin and that's the sell price for the maker. It's no more complicated than that. Certain companies, such as Hancock and Moore don't take shortcuts at all, or hire untrained personnel. They use the best materials, and the best construction and the best manpower to produce a superior product. What's shocking about Hancock and Moore however, is when you go to their main production facility and see how plain and remote the building is. Bare-bones, nothing fancy. Even the executive offices are no better than what you would find in an on-site construction trailer. Primitive at best, but functional. They never put money into pomp and presentation, it all goes to the build.

    One can buy cheap furniture - lots of it out there - especially at places like Costco or Macy's. It doesn't last years, it lasts months. Those consumers will hold onto it for years, however - because the bargain shopper will not admit they made a bad buy and insist on getting five to seven years out of it while it's lost its suspension and support and feels like a marshmallow. Your money, your choice, but its false economy and bad for the environment filling up our landfills with all this cheap, bulky crap. You pay more for quality on the front end, but cost of ownership is less over the useful lifespan because its not failing. Why is it not failing? Quality materials, proper construction, and well-assembled.

    Warranties are not a guarantee of time usage. Most people wear out a sofa cover long before a frame or suspension will deteriorate. It's used up before its broken. I probably only do one warranty claim every two years over hundreds of pieces sold, It's extremely rare to have any kind of legitimate warranty issues.
    Last edited by drcollie; 02-14-2020 at 10:56 AM.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum
    I ask that you do NOT call my store with general furniture questions, that is what the forum is for

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