There's only one law that counts on the sales floor: Know what you really want and don't pay any more for it than you have to
(MONEY Magazine) – The problem with being a shopper is that it's not designed to be a fair fight. You walk into a store with a general idea of what you want, and you expect to make your decision there on the spot. You may even expect the store's staff to help you decide.
Here's the rub, though: That store, and the manufacturers of the products in that store, aren't necessarily on your side. While you've been busy with other things, they've been plotting. Scheming, even.
Millions of dollars have been spent on market research, advertising and product development. Salespeople have been trained to lead you in certain directions. In today's competitive marketplace, brands have to distinguish themselves in any way they can, and they often do so in ways that are more helpful to them than to you.
To get the best stuff at the best price, you've got to be a bit of a detective. On the following pages, across six broad categories of consumer products, we've done the gumshoe work. Our examples don't cover everything you might want to buy, of course, but they'll reveal the ways some high-ticket goods are made and sold. You'll come away knowing how to judge both product and price tag. On the sales floor, the other side may push any number of emotional buttons to nudge you in the direction they want. But on the next 11 pages, you can expect to get just the facts, ma'am.
Additional Reporting By Asa Fitch, Michelle Kalkhoff and Ingrid Tharasook contributed to this article.