Inferior Goods Definition
Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®
Updated on July 27, 2021
Define Inferior Goods In Simple Terms
Typically this occurs because a more costly alternative, which is perceived to be superior, is now more affordable.
For example, a consumer that typically buys McDonald’s coffee may decide to switch to buying Starbucks.
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Despite the name, inferior goods are not always actually inferior to other goods, except in price and perception.
An example of an inferior good that is more or less identical to its more expensive counterpart is store-brand foods.
Usually, these come from the same production lines as brand name foods, and yet consumers still gravitate towards brand names when they can afford them.
Likewise, what is considered an “inferior”good is largely decided by trends in consumer behavior rather than any absolute statement of quality.
For example, fast food may be considered an inferior good in wealthy parts of a country, yet might be perceived as more of a luxury in poorer areas or developing countries.
Inferior goods also don’t account for taste or individual preference, so it isn’t a hard and fast rule that individuals with higher income always abandon inferior goods as soon as they have the chance.
The “superior”goods that consumers switch to buying are called normal goods.
An important note is that a normal good is not the same as a luxury good.
Inferior and normal goods are both categories of products that are deemed essentials; food, for example.
Luxury goods are not essential, although consumers may still spend more money on them when their income increases.