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Quality, Speed or Price: The Unattainable Triangle

May 5, 2015

Quality, Speed or Price: The Unattainable Triangle
It’s the age old golden rule, you can either have it fast, cheap or good, but you can’t have it all. In marketing and advertising, this is referred to as the "unattainable triangle.” "The triangle is a maxim that high-quality goods delivered quickly and efficiently to customers will always come at a higher price and vice versa." That is the cold, hard definition of the unattainable triangle. In this awesome infographic from Under-Rated, they display the challenge of the triangle very well. Quality, Speed or Price: The Unattainable Triangle The triangle is considered to be "unattainable" because any business that attains it would be inherently flawed.  For example, in an ideal world, businesses would produce high-quality goods at a fraction of the cost and time.  Logistically, this theory doesn’t work.  Think about what happens in the business world. Consumers associate high prices with high quality and cheap prices with low quality rather that is true or not.

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Relying on sales volumes to sell products at a lower price point doesn't work as efficiently as we would think. The notion of “too good to be true” plays a big role in the problem.  To put this dilemma into perspective, imagine if BMW started selling their $50,000 cars for only $20,000. Wouldn't you assume that there was something wrong with the car? Where did they start cutting corners? As consumers,  we are trained to associate the price point with quality and speed. You get what you pay for, therefore, you must pick two of the three (quality, speed, price). What is more important to you? If you are a business owner, your involvement in the triangle will depend on your values.  The triangle allows business to take a step back and analyze their goals, their process and what your audience is looking for. If your audience is looking for a quality item and your goal is to create a quality item then all is well. But, if your audience is looking for a mid quality item with a fast turnaround and low prices and you have to ask yourself if it's worth investing in this mindset and losing sight of your original goals and values. The unattainable triangle is unattainable for a reason. Trying to implement all three is points of the triangle is bad business. If you’ve got an amazing product, why would you want to under sell it?  Or if you're able to deliver a fast turn around, why charge the same amount as competitors who are twice as slow? Customers are trained to associated price with quality and that is the main reason why the unattainable triangle may always be unattainable.