I strongly believe that detailing products have tiers, and when you get into the professional level of products most of them can provide great results. However, the gap between two professional products of the same category is much smaller than that of the comparable product from your local automotive store. Then the choice is much more subjective and comes down to intangibles. One of the most relatable examples is detail spray, there are a ton of great detail spray options that I’m sure most details would be fine with swapping between, but intangibles keep them using one again and again.
NOTE: I know price is a huge factor in choosing products, I do not consider that an intangible, that is a core attribute as much as results are.
Here are some of my top intangibles when looking at a product:
You would be surprised how many different kinds of sprayers there are when you really start to look at them. From spray pattern to volume per spray, to trigger resistance, these are all things that can factor into choosing one product over another. Consciously or not. Now can you change the sprayer? Sure but if a line all has the same sprayer and you have to change it every time from a different brand it lessens the appeal.
A good smelling product is just better. There are outliers like wheel cleaners/APC that have a limit on how good they can smell due to the chemical makeup but let’s put those to the side. Detail spray and interior cleaners/dressing are the most important since it is what the customer will experience the most. Ever get your car back from the car wash back in the day before you knew what detailing was and it looks all nice and shiny but when you get inside it smells either like chemicals or way too fragrant? It hurts the overall experience for the customer. However, if you refinishing a car before coating and you use CarPro Eraser instead of isopropyl alcohol??? You just won over two senses at the same time.
A good “retail-ready” package is just better. I don’t care if you are putting them in your own bottles or not. I could understand if you were buying a “wholesale” bulk product that comes with a single-color label, but even then, the manufacturing difference from having a good design to a bad design is nothing. Granted you may have the initial investment in the design itself from a good designer, or to update your design from 1942, but the actual printing of the label. I’m not even talking about interesting bottle shapes like Gyeon, just a standard bottle with a full-color waterproof label. It just looks better and feels more premium and that the company is keeping up with the ever-evolving product market and making the best formulation possible.
Having the correct top to a bottle of a higher viscosity product is huge. The flip-top caps are fine for products like a car shampoo and screw-on tops work for gallons that are just mean for refilling. However, they are not ok for polishes, tire dressing, sealants, etc. Put a self-cleaning top on it, I prefer the thicker ones like the Menzerna line, but thin is fine, so I can pop it like a Gatorade bottle and not have to worry about it caking up in the nozzle or dripping all down the side. One argument on these I that you waste product as it dispenses what is in the nozzle to close it, but hey, not it doesn’t. You close it on your pad applicator so it is used, and if it were to dry in there you would waste much more anyway.
Speaking of viscosity, this can easily change my opinion of a product. The top culprits are normally finishing polishes and tire dressing, with the latter being the bigger sticking point. I like my tire dressing to be like a crème, like Chemical Guys VRP. When working on low profile tires or stretched tires, I need maximum control on that product so it doesn’t get on the wheels and if I need it less viscous, I can cut it with water for knobby truck tires. If it is too thin, I can’t go backward.
There are many more such as product dusting, working time, dry time, variety of applications it can be used for, bottle size in the hand, etc. But these are the top intangibles that if you took two like products would make me choose one over the other.
What are some intangibles that make you like a product better?