The Psychological Element (Fiskars vs Gerber)

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by PsYCHoT|K, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. PsYCHoT|K


    Mar 10, 2012
    Hello ax (and hatchet) people! Today we shall discuss... psychology?!?

    In the world of marketing it is no secret that, at least in the short-term, psychology sells better than quality. If any proof of this is needed, simply turn on the television and click on over to the nearest channel selling a worthless and useless trinket on an infomercial, and pay attention. A knife, say, that is touted as the "world's greatest" and that "never needs sharpening." Have you ever gotten your hands on one of these products? You know you have. Whether it be at an unfortunate family member's home, or at the local thrift store, if you look hard enough, you will find them. These products sell by the thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions. What's more, is that they are often some of the worst quality items in their respective classes. In the knife example, poor quality Chinese steel, poorly heat treated with poor quality control, wrapped up in a not-so-fancy package and sold by a professional sales-person who likely knows nothing about the actual product being sold, is manipulative at best, and fraudulent and malicious at worst. A knife that "never needs to be sharpened" should sell for at least $5,000. The "world's greatest" knife should sell for at least the same. If someone is offering to sell you the world's greatest knife that never needs sharpening for $9.99 (but wait, there's more!) and they will give you an extra one for "free" (plus shipping and handling), run away. Run. Don't let them near your hard-earned money. They will steal it.

    What on earth does any of this have to do with the thread title? How is this relevant to Fiskars and Gerber? That is a fair question. While Fiskars and Gerber are nowhere near the same ballpark as the crooked infomercial sales con-people, there is a parallel element that we, as buyers, can take away from said con-people; and that is the psychology of sales. Marketers are professionals, at least many of them. They spend their lives researching how to get you to buy their product. Some of them are nothing less than brilliant. Please keep in mind that the Fiskars and Gerber hatchets are essentially the exact same product with different packages and skins, ingeniously appealing to different sectors of the marketplace. This enables them to sell much more of the same product than they otherwise would, and I don't even necessarily blame them for it. But I recently stumbled upon this little gem of an unfavorable review on a Fiskars hatchet:

    "Bought to cut kindling. First time to use, struggled to cut small juniper. It might cut cold butter! Expected more from this hatchet! Should of bought a Gerber hatchet. Get what you pay for!!!"

    The poor reviewer has been tricked by their own psychology, as well as the influence of marketers, and it happens all too frequently and easily. Due to the nature of being a human being (which we all are, I presume), and the way that our minds operate, we are not exactly as rational as we like to imagine. Our thinking is littered with innumerable cognitive biases, and this review is indicative of at least one. It never crossed the reviewers mind that perhaps it could be their technique or inexperience that was to blame. Cognitive bias. "It can't be me, therefore it must be the product." But how do I know that they aren't a professional hatchet user, you might ask. Simple. The reviewer goes on to state that they "Should of bought a Gerber hatchet." This is sufficient evidence to me that the reviewer is a novice, and I don't say that in a derogatory manner. For all intents and purposes, when it comes to actually chopping wood with an ax or hatchet, I, myself, am also a novice (I do not get paid to fell trees or process lumber and I probably have less than 100 hours of chopping experience). With that said, some novices are more knowledgeable than others and it saddens me to read reviews like that. I would bet all the money in my wallet (which isn't much) that the reviewer would fare no better with a brand new Gransfors Bruk hatchet than he did with the Fiskars. How can I say something like that? Well, for starters, I did a side-by-side comparison of the Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Ax and the Fiskars X7 hatchet. I have also been tricked by my own psychology. Many, many times. The worst part about being objective and evidence based is that sometimes your conclusions are not what you wish them to be. I paid $130 for my Gransfors, while my Fiskars cost me a mere $25. I was very disheartened to see that the Gransfors, while certainly a superior ax, was not as superior as I had expected. My own psychology and cognitive biases made me expect the Gransfors to be mystical and magic, defying the laws of physics. Is it worth the price? Yes, I believe so. Is it 5 times better at actually cutting wood than the Fiskars? Not even close to close. I understand fully that price is not directly proportional to the results, trust me, I was the main knife-maker for a high-end production knife company for two years. A knife that we sold for $300 was absolutely nowhere even close to being 3 times better than a Becker of similar shape and size, which sells for $100. The human mind is a complex thing (possibly even the most complex thing in the entire universe).

    So what is the point of all of this? Why am I rambling on about things that seemingly have little to do with axes and hatchets specifically? Because I care. Because I desire to give back, however I can, to the community that has given so much to me. Everyone has their own unique and individual areas of expertise and so many have been so willing to openly and freely share their expertise with me, and I have benefited greatly from it. Most of what I have written, you probably already know. But perhaps there is someone out there who doesn't. Perhaps this thread can prevent someone from spending their money on something they wouldn't have otherwise purchased had they known better or had they simply been warned or informed by someone who didn't fall victim to the cognitive bias that makes us believe that everyone else knows what we know. Perhaps this was all just a waste of my time, and yours. But at the end of the day, it is good for people to speak the truth and to attempt to help each other out, even in the face of the fear of misunderstanding, judgement, disagreement or ridicule. At the end of the day, my soul would sit uneasy had I refused to write this thread out of fear, laziness and self-preservation. I hope this thread finds you well, and I hope that it has helped at least one of you.

    - AT Nyhof
    junkenstien and Square_peg like this.
  2. Hacked


    Jun 1, 2010
    Just a thought the reviewer might have been referring to the other Gerber hatchet which is made of flat sheet metal. These I don't believe are made by Fiskars. Also new axe/hatchet users often have the misconsepmisc that thinner axes will chop better. This is simply because they do not understand the mechanics of an axe.

    I'd say I had a similar experience with my 14" Fiskars (almost identical to the X7) recently. It really shouldn't have come as a surprise since Fiskars has been making axes for a very long time, so they have a clue as to what they are doing. Every time I've picked mine up so far I have not been disappointed. And that is coming from someone who doesn't view their Gransfors SFA to be their nicest axe. I'd say the reveiwer was at fault, since in my experience Fiskars hatchets chop very well straight out of the package.
    noviomagus and PsYCHoT|K like this.
  3. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    The marketing pukes find plenty of gullible people. :(

    Last Sunday I was teaching a new trail user how to use an axe. The first thing they did was make a series of blows at 90 degrees to the wood surface. Even after I showed them to swing at an angle they kept going back to 90 degrees. If that person wrote a review of my axe based on only their own method of use they would have concluded that my axe was a POS. Meanwhile several other experienced users commented on what an outstanding axe it was.

    Maybe half of every review is a review of the reviewer.
  4. junkenstien

    junkenstien Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 15, 2017
    Was at the cabelas today and noticed the Gerber axes are zombie killer green now.Was thinking similar about fishing tackle and what my grandfather would say about turning something simple and relaxing into such an expensive hobby.
    Square_peg and PsYCHoT|K like this.
  5. Lapedog


    Dec 7, 2016
    I have heard it said that a good salesman should be able to sell any product even if he knows nothing about it.
    Square_peg likes this.
  6. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    Fiskars vs Gerber vs Gransfors

    QUIZ: Match the company with their marketing.

    One of these companies is a "premium lifestyle brand" whose products "empower enthusiasts' everyday creativity"; and their "powerful axes chop deeper, split faster..."

    One of these companies is a "trusted" supplier "built on the pillars of craftsmanship, innovation, and an unrelenting commitment to quality"; and their cutting tools "are built to tackle any task thrown your way" and "allow you to work harder and longer with less fatigue."

    One of these companies "strives to make the best possible axes", with "as little impact on our environment as possible", and "with respect for the people who create them." This company also wants to "ensure that knowledge of axes and axe making is preserved for future generations".


    Fiskars is a premium lifestyle brand that makes high-quality gardening, cooking, and crafting tools that empower enthusiasts’ everyday creativity through purposeful design.

    Experience a better axe. Our powerful axes chop deeper, split faster and are virtually unbreakable.

    Gerber is a leading global supplier of personal knives, multi-tools and problem-solving gear. Built on the pillars of craftsmanship, innovation, and an unrelenting commitment to quality, the trusted brand features a diverse portfolio of equipment for recreational and professional end users.

    Gerber develops cutting tools that are built to tackle any task thrown your way in the wild, on the job site, or in your own backyard. Tough and durable, Gerber delivers on a diverse range of cutting tools: axes, machetes, saws, pruners, and shears help get the job done. With features such as corrosion resistant PTFE blade coatings to shock-absorbing FiberComp® axe handles, these cutting tools are efficient, hardworking, and technologically advanced. The result is cutting tools that allow you to work harder and longer with less fatigue.

    Here at Gränsfors Bruk, we feel a keen responsibility to ensure that knowledge of axes and axe making is preserved for future generations. We strive to make the best possible axes, based on three different perspectives.

    [1] We make axes with the best possible function for their particular area of use.
    ...we’re working to collect axe know-how and expertise. One way of doing this is to invite in and maintain an ongoing dialogue with axe-forging and log-building enthusiasts...

    [2] We make axes that have as little impact on our environment as possible.
    The best thing we can do for the environment is to make small numbers of quality products that last a long time. A good product that is looked after is likely to have an extended life, which means we don’t need to make as many of them. As proof of our commitment to making long-lasting products, our axes come with a 20 year guarantee... The choice of material is important, not just for environmentally aware manufacturing, but also in terms of what happens to the materials when the axe finally reaches the end of its life. The steel can be recycled, while the leather and the handle will decompose, so no waste is created...

    [3] We make axes with respect for the people who create them.
    An axe is only as good as the accumulated skills of the people who forge, grind and attach the handle to the axe. All our axes are made by human hand. And all these people deserve great respect and recognition for their professional expertise. Our company would be nothing without them. At Gränsfors Bruk it’s important that you as a customer know that our employees have proper Swedish salaries, good working conditions, holidays and pensions, as well as an opportunity to achieve a good work-life balance. In other words, the kind of values and conditions you probably want for yourself and your children.

    Making a good product based on the perspectives above is our way of showing responsibility towards everyone who buys and uses our products, towards our environment and towards our staff.

    Faiaoga, PsYCHoT|K and phantomknives like this.
  7. phantomknives


    Mar 31, 2016
    i wouldnt know the difference if i hadnt specifically remembered the "eco friendly" bit from Gransfors
  8. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010

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