MBH’s recent post about perusing a used DVD store  at the mall got me thinking about the mystique and allure surrounding “new” products. MBH was looking at some DVDs when a couple walked by. The guy remarked about the low prices of the DVDs and his companion responded with “Yeah, but they’ve already been watched!” You can replace DVD with practically any product on the web because a lot of people are trapped by the allure of buying some that’s new. In the case of DVDs and many other products, used is just as good as new but at the fraction of the price, like video games, electronics (cell phones!) and certified pre-owned / used cars (used is a little farther away from new when you talk cars than a DVD, but you get the idea) and in fact it’s usually a good financial decision, in terms of value to price ratio, to buy something that’s been gently used rather than brand spanking new. So, why does the allure of “new” exist?
You can show off something that’s new if you’re into playing the “judge me by the things I own” game. What has bigger oompf, pulling up in a brand spanking new Jaguar XKR or pulling up in a gently used Jaguar XKR that might maybe have some superficial marks? Anyone will tell you that the brand new car will draw the oohs and ahhs whereas the used one will only get a few ahhs and if you’re into showing off and wanting the attention, you want the oohs with the ahhs.
Fear of the unknown is genuine, who knows what someone else did to it. The number one reason why someone doesn’t buy something used is because they’re afraid that there is something wrong with it or that it’s otherwise been used roughly. This is especially prevalent in cars but applies to anything used. Take a cell phone for example, the case might look great but what if it was dropped in water but still functions, you just don’t know it? One day the thing could die and you’d never know, right? What if that DVD is a couple light scratches away from being a beverage coaster? Sure, 99% of the time you’re probably safe with used, but that 1% of the time is what you’re always afraid of. You’re less likely to die in a plane crash and less likely to win the lottery but there are aviatophobics (fear of flying) and folks who play the lottery every single day.
You don’t want someone else’s junk. While this is kind of tied into the first reason, this one is a little less “in your face.” If someone sold their item, it’s likely that they didn’t want it; if they didn’t want it, why do you want to pay your hard earned money for their discards? There are plenty of people who sell used video games online because they aren’t going to play them anymore once they beat it, the video game is essentially junk to them and they’d rather have the money. I see myself as getting a good price on something I want but some people might view it as me being a fool buying someone else’s junk.
New isn’t always better, sometimes it’s just more expensive.