Is Dewalt THE top tier brand?

I’ll retell this:

There is a meme that some manufacturers will make a cheaper version of their products especially for the big box retaialers*. They alter the model number or other mark to distinguish the product.

    • if YOU had the buyer for HD in your office and he could buy all the output of a new factory in China - IF you can meet his price, what WOULD you do?

I’d like for once someone to show some proof this happens. It should be easy. You can go to any of these manufacturer’s websites and see the model #s. So it should be no problem to cross-check them with home depot or lowe’s websites.

It would be idiotic of these companies to produce a knock-off replica of some other model just to sell at home depot or lowes. I would imagine the vast majority of their sells come from big box stores… so why bother? There are plenty of cheaper tools available out there, why risk tarnishing your brand for no gain?

Compare a DCD940KX kit to a DC720KA kit. They are both 18v 1/2 drills. One retails $80 bucks more than the other. The cheaper one pretty much exists to meet a big box price point Home Depot carries both. It’s not some secret marking that differentiates them the Model numbers are on the packaging and clearly different.

Big box versions can be almost a completely different tool, or just a minimal version of the product. A shorter power cord, no spare blade or bits, no case, any little bit of savings to meet the price range that can be found might be the big box version, or it might be a completely different tool with a lot more plastic and cheaper motor.

Those are very different drills, though. The fancier one has a higher power rating, three speed settings, higher max RPM, more clutch settings, and a metal ratcheting chuck, and is a lot heavier.

The accusation that gets thrown around is that the companies make cheaper versions of the same model (perhaps with a -A appended to the model number or something) with just a few parts replaced by plastic equivalents, and sell those to the big-boxes. The point being that a guy who looks at a FooCorp 1155 drill in a catalog and picks up a FooCorp 1155-A thinks he’s getting something of higher quality than he actually is.

I agree I’ve never seen such accusations born out. Manufacturers do make tools of different qualities though. Someone who knows nothing about tools might choose a lower quality version thinking it’s equivalent to the more expensive one. Deception that would fool a competent buyer doesn’t exist imo.

Nate asked for an example of a brand offering a cheaper version sold at big box stores. There is no question one of those drills is cheaper than the other. They are both within the same brand.

Sorry for not being clear, but I was asking for proof of a cheapening of a specific model just to sell it in a big box store, basically what friedo is describing. I’m aware that brands make different models for different price points.

In business school, the Black & Decker case study is a classic!

Back around 1992, the problem was that B & D’s commercial-grade products were charcoal-gray, and their consumer-grade products were black. A lot of their really cheap competitors also used black or charcoal-gray for their colors, as well. At the time, their main competitors in the professional-tradesman arena (contractors, construction workers, etc.) were Makita and Milwaukee Power Tools, each with their own bold, distinctive colors. Makita was kicking the snot out of both Milwaukee and B & D, and Milwaukee was starting to pull ahead of B & D.

B & D were huge in the consumer goods marketplace (coffee makers, popcorn makers, blenders, etc.) and they had a very high name recognition value, due to all the marketing for those consumer goods. However, that brand recognition worked against them, because there was a perception that B & D was synonymous with “cheap” and “consumer-grade” products, not to be used by professional tradesmen. Interestingly enough, they had done research where they took similar products from B & D, Makita, and Milwaukee and removed all identifying marks and colors, then put them to use in real situations. The B & D products performed equally with the other two brands, demonstrating that B & D’s quality was high, but they had a perception problem.

B & D was literally faced with the possibility of exiting the power hand tool market, and they were the ones that had invented the market!

As mentioned upthread, DeWalt was a manufacturer of radial arm saws for the lumber industry, but the brand had been retired due to liability concerns. The DeWalt brand was already part of the B & D “stable” of brands; that is, they did not go out and purchase DeWalt. They resurrected the brand name and applied it to their professional-grade tools, along with the “industrial yellow” color.

They could have co-branded their products by calling them “Such and Such by Black and Decker”, but that would not have helped them overcome the perception problem. Therefore, they had to do something to get separation from the B & D name.

At the time, studies had shown that the DeWalt had a high name recognition factor, so they chose to rebrand as DeWalt. (This was around the same time that Honda was introducing the luxury brand of Acura, and Toyota was bringing out the Lexus, both for the same reasons: to get separation from their cheaper, “consumer-grade” lines.)

Again, as mentioned upthread, perception is everything, especially in a macho environment such as a job work site. The guys are always sizing up each others’ … tools … (ahem, the powered kind). Same thing with their trucks. There is an inherent “ego-expressive” quality about what you use to make your living, especially in a testosterone rich environment where you only make money when you are working, and you are losing money if your tools are broken.

The color of the drill or saw or whatever was a very powerful influence. You could see from across the job site what a particular guy was using. Good or bad. But B & D suffered because a cheap knockoff’s black or charcoal-gray color was indistinguishable from their charcoal-gray products.

By completely changing over the name and color of their tools, B & D was able to successfully rebrand themselves and separate their professional-grade tools from their consumer-grade tools. And they totally dominated the market in the years immediately following.

Now, all of this happened a long time ago when we all wore onions on our belts, and so, today, the landscape may be completely different. DeWalt tools may or may not be of as high quality as they were 30 years ago. Makita and Milwaukee may or may not be better than they were 30 years ago. (Both Makita and Milwaukee are owned by the same “umbrella” corporation.) Other brands may have risen to take their place.

But the really strange thing is the important part that the color played in the whole rebranding effort.

Missed the edit window. Sorry about that. I want to at least make an attempt to answer the questions immediately above my wall-o-text.

Generally, though, a manufacturer can’t offer radically cheaper versions of the same product due to their marketing agreements with their retailers. A manufacturer usually doesn’t want to alienate their retail partners. If BoxStoreA is selling a Foobar 1000 (for professionals) for $400, and BoxStoreB is selling the Foobar 1000-A (for the casual Mr. Fixit around the house) for $100, then someone is getting deceived, especially if BoxStoreB tries to position the 1000-A model as suitable for the rigors of a job site.

Plus, let’s say they did actually do that. Consider the tradesman who doesn’t know that there is a difference between the Foobar 1000 and the Foobar 1000-A. He buys the cheaper product thinking he just saved $300, but the thing breaks on the second day at the job site. Now he’s out of work until he can replace the tool. Immediately, he will be completely disenchanted with that manufacturer, and probably won’t even try to do the research needed to find out that he really should have bought the Foobar 1000 rather than the 1000-A model. He’ll just move on to another brand, and typically, these guys are not just buying a single tool … they are buying about $1,000 - $3,000 of tools per year, over a lifetime. A manufacturer would be stupid to deliberately try to lose that revenue stream.

What on earth does that mean?

The Kaiser stole our word for “twenty”

Simpsons quote:

That was Nineteen-dickety-two

Another reason they may have bespoke part numbers/models is so that they won’t get bit by say… Lowe’s running a “We’ll beat or match anyone’s price on the same item” promotions. If only they sell that model, then nobody else can match their price.

No love for Hitachi tools these days? Ohh well, mine still work great.

I’ve never used a Hitachi tool nor have I heard anything good or bad about them. They just don’t seem to have much of a market share.