Top 10 Overpriced Products that are Really Cheap to Make

Everyone wants to get the biggest bang for his buck, stretch that dollar to its limit, and triumph over inflation. But the reality is that most of the over priced products that are really cheap to make have made this impossible.


Everyone wants to get the biggest bang for his buck, stretch that dollar to its limit, and triumph over inflation. But the reality is that most of the over priced products that are really cheap to make have made this impossible. So let’s have a look at the “Top 10 Overpriced Products that are Really Cheap to Make”

Top 10 Overpriced Products that are Really Cheap to Make
Source: Wikia

10. Mattresses

Within the furniture industry, the mattress sector is far and beyond the most lucrative, with markup prices veering from the expensive to the extreme. On the low end, buyers can find prices that include 100% markup. On the high end, mattresses can be marked up by well over 1500%. That means you can be paying $5000 for something that costs a mere $300 to make. This is the typical breakdown of what you’re usually paying.

So how is this possible? For a plethora of reasons, apparently. Most obviously, it’s because there are only a handful of companies in the industry. This sort of market form is called an Oligopoly, because in the mattress industry, only four companies account for around 60% of all revenue. Since there are so few competitors, this companies have easily aligned very high profit margins without competition. And we’re just forced to pay their prices.

So why doesn’t someone just enter the market with a cheaper mattress and make millions? Well, it’s not as easy as that. Most mattresses are sold through retailers who take a cut. They order through the largest manufacturers and each mattress company usually slaps on a different name or label for each mattress retailer. Crucially, this makes it difficult for anyone but a true mattress expert to compare prices. So when one retailer says they can match the price of another mattress, that may be because it’s the exact same one. And after all, we only really buy a mattress every five to ten years, so most of us find it hard to gauge its quality. Hardly anyone will feel bad laying on a new mattress when we’ve been sleeping on a mediocre one for years. So we usually just soak up the salesman’s rhetoric that we’re getting a good deal.

Add to that all the features you likely don’t notice, but they upsell you anyway, like extra foam. And you have yet more reasons to add additional margins to the sale. If you need a mattress, I suggest just ordering online. Sure you won’t be able to test it before your purchase, but they’re far more transparent and less expensive.

09. Popcorn

Popcorn and movies have always gone hand-in-hand. But the price of popcorn in movie theaters have undergone massive price hikes over the years as cinemas search out new revenue streams, as studios take more percentage points on each new release. AMC and Regal Cinemas are two well-known theater companies that retail a small bag of popcorn for around $6-$7, which costs a mere thirty-five cents ($0.35) to produce. That equates to a markup of an astounding 18 times (1800%) the actual production rate.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Based on conducted studies, this markup enables theaters to keep ticket prices lower and increase sales.

08. Text Messages

Remember the days when text messages were free? Well that era is long over. And now the largest phone carriers have clamped down and released coverage plans that seek to maximize profits per text. The cost that major telecommunication giants like AT&T and Verizon have incurred for texts average between a thousandth of a penny to 8000ths cents.

But these days, customers are charged an average of twenty cents per text, with payment plans that include pay-as-you-go, annual and multi-year options. That means we’re paying tens of thousands more than it costs. That great deal that you thought you were getting doesn’t seem that grand once you do some simple math. So if wireless carriers priced text messaging at their actual wholesale cost, we would pay approximately one to eight cents for 1000 text messages. And with so few companies offering complete coverage coast to coast, consumers’ choices are limited, thus the price-gouging continues.

07. Printer Cartridges

Being able to print documents from the privacy of your own home is convenience we all want. But it also comes with an added expense. The major electronics manufacturers know that premium printer cartridges are an absolute necessity, subjecting consumers into a “Catch-22” situation, where they sell printers at relatively inexpensive prices, but generate millions with their lines of printer cartridges. According to studies, Hewlett-Packard (HP) offers cartridges for printers that retail between $13 to $50, with the production rates estimated between $4 to $5, constituting to a markup that is three to ten times the actual cost.

HP recently released a statement that the company invests billions of dollars annually into ink development and research. Though this hardly justifies the true reason they’re so expensive, which is profit. With the biggest electronic manufacturers in the industry adopting similar business models, it’s virtually impossible for consumers to avoid the high prices associated with printer cartridges.

06. Textbooks

It costs about $11 to print a new edition to the standard algebra textbook, though college students often end up paying a retail price of over $200, a markup more than 20 times the manufacturing fees. Though you may be led to believe that it’s because publishers have other costs, like royalties to authors, editorial production, transportation, marketing, and employees’ salaries in bookstores, the main reason is simpler than that.

They cost so much, because publishers force students to buy new books by releasing expensive new editions each year, making older books obsolete, therefore undermining the used book market. On average, students spend $655 each year on textbooks, according to the National Association of College Stores.

05. Electronics

Electronics are now essential parts of our everyday lives, from remote control devices to cables, calculators, and more. One particularly expensive device is the graphing calculator. Texas Instruments is the leading manufacturer of these devices. Their production costs range between $15 to $20, but at retail, their TI-83 graphing calculator sells anywhere from $100 to $140, a markup price that is typically seven times more than manufacturing costs. They can do this because textbook publishers often provide exercises that coincide with specific calculators and their functions, necessitating students to purchase a specific device, regardless of price.

Other electronics, like TVs and video game systems, don’t turn huge profits for electronics stores. So they turn to their accessories to maximize profits. HDMI cables give consumers the power to stream content directly between their TV and laptop at a cost of less than $3 wholesale. The retail price, however, averages about $20, and is unavoidable if you want to enjoy the advantages in technology in the comfort of your home. Televisions these days are not manufactured inside the US anymore, due to major brands outsourcing production costs to India and China, where the workforce works for substantially less than their American counterparts.

04. Shoes and Clothing

The price we pay for clothes can vary dramatically from brand to brand, but one component that remains the same is the markup of items purchased. A typical polo shirt costs around $5 to make, but will sell for $14, a markup of 180%. The major costs include materials and transportation, with only around 2% of the wholesale costs going to the workers. There are only a few companies that can make the Made in the USA claim, as the majority of clothing brands opt for manufacturing overseas in other countries, like Vietnam and Bangladesh, where the labor rate is around $2 an hour, compared to the average US rate of $20 an hour.

The cost to make a pair of American-made jeans, like True Religion, for example, are around $50. But the retail price comes in at $335. The company factors in the cost of running stores, shipping, marketing, and other overheads to justify the markup of nearly seven times the actual production rate. Another area where exorbitant retail prices abound is the shoe industry, with most major brands significantly marking up prices to cover endorsement deals, international production, and marketing costs. Nike’s Air Max, for example, carries a production cost of only $33, but retail for $190, a 600% markup that consumers are obviously willing to overlook. Similarly, the Yeezy Boost 750 costs around $76 to make, but retails for $350.

As long as there remains a hungry market for premium footwear, these prices will continue to hold.

03. Seasonal Gifts

A cheap card typically costs $1 or $2, and premium cards can go for upwards of $8. But isn’t that really expensive for something that is essentially just paper with some ink on it? Yes, but not as much as others in this video. Usually the markup on a card is around 50% to 100%, which means that on the high end, something that costs $6 might cost around $3 to make. As usual, the reason is economics. The main reason they’re so cheap to make is because a lack of competition in the retail space. Hallmark and American Greetings are the giants of the industry, cornering over 90% of the market, which means they can easily gouge the market and charge as much as consumers will pay.

Start-ups who try to compete down card prices are warded off by the deep relationships that major manufacturers have with major paper companies and distributors. They also prefer to charge a few dollars per card as a marketing tactic, to encourage consumers to substitute up. Think about it. If the cheapest card was $3.99, as opposed to $0.99, then you’re more likely to switch to the $7 premium card, if you were swaying to that design anyway. Also, they are not as cheap to produce as you may think, especially the premium ones. Companies employ a lot of people to brainstorm, design, and assemble them. Also, their specialist printers are not cheap, and paper costs are rising. That’s why you won’t see much cheaper prices online.

Just as the gift card industry is controlled by relatively few companies, so is another seasonal staple, floristry and roses. During the peak season for rose sales, specifically around Valentine’s Day, you’ll pay an average of 100% to 300% markup to buy roses. Apart from increased demand, part of the reason is that 80% have to be imported from other places, like Columbia and Ecuador, and this is why prices can vary so much. In Los Angeles, where local growers supplement the import market and drive down prices, wholesale prices increase from $0.70 per stem to $1.85 per stem. At retail, they’ll goanywhere from $3 to $6. However, New Yorkers have to import their roses, and hence wholesale prices swell from $1.50 to $2.50 during Valentines, and retail prices typically rise from $5 to $9. According to BradsDeals.com, the optimal time to buy roses for Valentine Day is around January 15th to lock in a lower price, as they inevitably get more expensive the longer you wait.

02. Drinks

We’re all serial drinkers. From breakfast through dinner, from filtered waters, coffees, smoothies, beer, wine, and beyond. With such a high demand, the industry has a variety of practices in regards to pricing their products. Bottle water is one of the largest growing areas in the industry, which passes on huge markups from leading manufacturers. On average, we pay 300 times the cost of water whenever we buy a bottle of tap water. According the the “American Water Works Association”, bottled water is 2000 times the cost of tap water, when taking into account the majority sold are 16-ounce bottles. Obviously, drink companies have cost of the bottle itself, distribution, and marketing. But that’s still an incredibly high markup.

Carbonated drinks also have high markups. Coca-Cola’s carbonated beverages dominate the market, and retail from $0.50 for a can, with material costs well below $0.10, which is a markup of 5 to 12 times the production cost. As a leader in the industry, Coca-Cola could charge a lot to consumers because they’re selling us experiences and not liquids. They spend a lot of time on marketing and transporting their products, too.

01. Apple iPhones

Most of us cannot live without our Smartphone. And Apple leads the market in this realm. Though Apple never releases actual production costs, however according to analysis by research firm IHS Market, the base model of the iPhone X, with 64 gigs of storage, costs approximately $370.25 in raw parts, then it’s sold for just under $1000, so the markup is around 170%, without taking all other development and design costs into account. That’s actually a lot more expensive than previous models, as Apple has really paid a premium for parts of the Flagship Model. For example, the iPhone 6+ cost around $215 to make, whereas the cost to retail is $749, a markup of 250%. Still, it’s not as much as other phones. The Galaxy S8 is said to cost around $307.50 per unit to make, and they retail just over $700, so the markup is a lot lower, at 130%.

So why are iPhones so expensive? It’s simply because we’re willing to pay for iPhones. Apple still has a reputation for being easier to use and more reliable than Android, though it’s no longer necessarily the case in reality. They also rarely offer discounts to make them seem more exclusive, so there are very few opportunities for retailers to undercut the RRP on Apple’s own site.

All right that’s the list of “Top 10 Over Priced Products that are Really Cheap to Make”. Were you surprised by how inexpensive some products you buy are? Do you know any other I should have mentioned?

Let me know in the comments down below.

Thanks for reading.

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