I used to be a real spendthrift during my late 20s and early 30s! High income clubbed with single life abroad was like perfect recipe for personal finance disaster. It was the time when I started falling in love with designer brands that offered little value in life but made myself a self-proclaimed somebody else :-) I must confess that I spent a significant part of my life wasting money over those famous brand names that every one of my age group then probably wanted or were envious about.
The craving for designer brands ended once I started my married life when the reality injected some good sense into my head. That’s when I started realizing the value of going for products that offer value and quality for the price you pay. While some of these products may not be exactly cheap, they definitely do offer great value for money in the long run.
Once I started using those value-for-money products, I involuntarily started liking the brands or companies that produced these amazing products. This blog post is about the brands that have added value in my life in the long run.
My top 10 favorite brands
When I talk about a real brand (other than FMCG) that I am in love with for at least 35 years now, I have to start with Panasonic.
I first saw a Panasonic (National Panasonic to be precise) stereo tape recorder as a five or six year old child. During those days, a National Panasonic boom box or stereo was one of the most valuable things that a Keralite who returned from ‘the Gelf or Persia’ would bring in. I am talking about the pre-VCR era and post-valve radio period.
I attached myself to the Panasonic brand from those robust boombox days itself and started familiarizing with their other products as I grew.
Today, I am a big Panasonic fan and have used at least 8 to 10 of their products to satisfaction over the past several years. There are some categories where a Panasonic is simply the best – e.g. Cordless phones or Rice cooker etc. Among the
Panasonics that we have at home as of today include:
– Our Panasonic plasma TV
– A cordless phone (that I purchased 15 years back and still working)
– Two electric rice cookers
– A mixer grinder (awesome product!)
– An electric shaver
– A super silent hair dryer (latest addition)
Well, the audio systems themselves underwent a lot of changes and hence I don’t know how the Panasonic stereos or boomboxes are doing now. But I definitely love their other products (may be except their recent entry into smartphones)
Philips is another brand I familiarized and started liking at the same time – particularly due to their lighting options, radios etc. However, in my mind, Panasonic still has the highest value for money.
2. Raymond’s Park Avenue
This must be one Indian brand that every working professional in this country must be familiar with and proud of for years now. I doubt if there’s a single middle class executive in India who didn’t own a pair of Raymond’s trousers in his life. In fact, I haven’t seen any cloth item that’s so durable and offers good looks at the same time for the money spent.
Further, I see that most people who went for their first suit or blazer naturally went with a Raymond’s Park Avenue.
(By the way, I do not use a Park Avenue on a regular basis any longer as I have stopped wearing formals. However, I still do have a couple of them in my wardrobe)
3. Titan (formal watches)
Okay, I am not here to talk about Tanishq, Fastrack or other late entrants from the Titan family. But a Titan Quartz formal watch is a high value for money watch and the one I own for the past 18 years still works like a charm whenever the battery is replaced in a timely manner.
If I remember correctly, I had paid something like Rs. 1200/- for this watch (in the picture) way back in 1995 or 96. Of course, I don’t use it as often as I used to do 10 years ago but even with a couple of other watches in my collection, I never forget to wear this little formal Titan once in a while.
4. Zodiac – formal shirts
Zodiac is another Indian brand that I started liking after I got my first job. In fact, at one point of time, I remember ditching all other shirt brand and going outright for Zodiac when I had to relocate to US for the purpose of my consulting job.
Years down the line, while there are dozens of choices available when it comes to clothing brands, Zodiac still continues to be my favorite. I haven’t bought a formal shirt for a few years now, but when I do it will again be a Zodiac.
Their ZOD! Clubwear is another brand that needs a mention. At one point of time – perhaps 12 years ago – it was probably the only option if you had to pick a party wear for men. I still have a couple of them in my wardrobe that’s not used for quite some time now but is still in a highly usable condition apart from being the perfectly fitting shirt. Well, these shirts are not exactly cheap but serves you well (just like Raymond’s) in terms of fit and finish for a long time not to mention that they continue to equip their shirts with mother-of-pearl buttons even after several years into starting that practice.
5. Reynolds (ball-point pens)
This is no-brainer! Reynolds – among the ball-point pens – is the first one that I liked ever since we got the very first chance to switch over from those leaking fountain pens. By the way, I indeed liked the hero fountain pens as mentioned in an old post but Reynolds offered more freedom and resulted in better looking note books.
Even before Reynolds pens entered the Indian market; it was a popular name in our households – thanks again to the relatives working in the Gulf countries.
I still consider it as a value-for-money brand although the quality seems to have deteriorated a bit ever since their Indian entry in the early 90s.
Just like the brand Panasonic, yet another consumer durables brand that I like a lot is Hitachi – particularly due to their Air conditioners (and fridges too). While, one doesn’t go out and buy a Hitachi product on a regular basis, it is peace of mind once you own a 5-star energy rated product from Hitachi. Even better, they are like silent work horses that keep your mind away from regular repair related botheration.
I love Hitachi as a brand!
7. Polaroid – sun glasses
The Polaroids that one could wear even during night driving / riding have been my favorite list for the past 10 or 15 years now. In between, I switched a couple of driving glasses / fashion sun glasses but nothing offered the utility that came with a Polaroid
It is just amazing how those cool looking designer brands come nowhere close to a Polaroid in terms of real use and value for money.
8. Emami as a brand
Probably the only cosmetic item – other than my deos – I have to ever use in my life is the cold cream. And the best value for money cold cream that I have seen so far is the Emami cold cream which is priced almost one-third of typical brands like Ponds.
Emami is yet another Indian brand that’s synonymous to value and culture for the Indians. Their Himani Navaratna oil, Boroplus cream, powder, facewash etc are rightly priced products that understand the Indian audience well.
9. Oral B (dental floss)
Dental floss is something that I can’t live without and ever since I started flossing (at least 15 years now), I have been using the Oral B floss. Why Oral B? Because that’s the thinnest possible floss that I could find in the local market. The other brands like Colgate are much thicker flosses and very plain too while Oral B has a fresh minty flavor to it.
Overall, it helps maintain the dental hygiene at a reasonable price. I like this brand mainly because there are very few options in India when it comes to Dental hygiene products.
10. Pears soap
This is one brand that I have used for at least 90% of my life so far because even my father used the same and I have been seeing it since my birth. During my twenties, I switched to men’s lifestyle bath soap brands like Park Avenue or Aramusk but I knew that I was never going to patronize with such brands.
While the Pears bath soap has degraded a bit in its cut, shape and quality over the years, it’s still a decent Glycerine soap to help with a fresh shower.
[By the way, I just recalled an incident that took place some 32 years ago. My father, in fact, wrote to Hindustan Lever the first time they changed its shape of Pears to make it flattened and thinner. His queries were, then, answered by the customer care department in a personal letter. A couple of years from then, they reinstated the shape but the the beautiful cut was gone forever. Now, it looks like an unfinished product though the soap quality is still good if not the best]
Some more value brands
Well, there are a number of other things that I started liking at various stages of my life.
The super silent Crompton Greaves ceiling fans are one such brand that keeps me happy and amazed from the time I first saw it. We still have one in my house back home and even after 35 years of its heavy usage, it hasn’t failed even once. The regulator was damaged once but never the fan.
Colgate Pax Fresh Tea is an awesome mouthwash product that I found to be very gentle and fresh at the same time. It’s not too expensive either.
Another product I like for its pricing and quality is Himalaya Whitening Herbal toothpaste – it’s not too coarse; it is rightly priced and very effective.
As for the shaving systems, the Gillette Prestobarbara ready shaver at 22 rupees or so is a great bargain and it’s good for a couple of clean shaves.
Washing machines from Siemens are in my quality products list too, but since they are so expensive, I am not mentioning it in the value-for-money list.
The list could go on. But what I have learned in the process is that, beyond the upfront cost involved, there’s something called customer support, long term returns in terms of quality and satisfaction. That’s what make some of these products stand out.
And well, I know that you could disagree with some of my picks so let me know your list of best brands that offer value.