Don't underestimate the packaging! Vacuum is pretty much nothing. It is quite cheap to make. But if you package it right, and call it something like "vacuum switchgear", it'll sell for thousands of dollars.
The Heinz brand of vinegars is the best-selling vinegar in the world, and it generally sells for twice the price of "generic" vinegar. Several people surveyed have actually claimed that Heinz is a "higher quality" vinegar. And yet the only physical difference between the two (in the case of white vinegar) is one has a label with the name "Heinz" on it.
Sony did this with its gaming hardware. There is an infamous quote about how people should want to work a second job or more hours in order to afford the PlayStation 3. For the PSP Go!, Sony openly "justified" the $250 price tag by saying that some people enjoy premium prices for new technology.
Sony tried. The PS3 didn't really catch on till Sony dropped the price to match the Xbox 360. (Half its initial $599 price.) As for the PSP Go? Lack of features and excessive price have made it The Scrappy of the portable market.
Shitty salesmanship, but you've gotta admire their audacity; Sony Computer Entertainment's marketing department has more balls than a goddamn gymnasium.
You only have balls when your risk pays off. Otherwise you're just an idiot.
In a blind tasting featuring international wines, the winner in the semi-dry Riesling category won by a landslide, but none of the (California, French, etc) testers could identify its origin. Imagine their horror when it turned out to be from Chateau Grand Traverse vineyards in Michigan.
Why would they be horrified? Chateau Grand Traverse is well known for their wines, and Riesling is their specialty, with their vines descending directly from Riesling vines in the German Rhine. (Riesling does well in colder climates, developing a pleasant appley flavor.) They are also the best known producer of Ice Wine outside Canada, making an excelling Riesling Ice Wine.
Store brand batteries (especially from drug stores) tend to last significantly longer than name brand because they're new. Drug stores and carry-outs tend to be closer than department stores for a lot of people, so they're the "I need a pack of gum and a candy bar" type purchases, batteries are a common impulse item, and the store brand batteries tend to be cheaper. All this translates to a higher turnover rate as compared to the name brands.
Careful, though; the really cheap "came with the remote" types are usually worst of all in terms of longevity.
Coke tastes better when you can see the label. There are studies.
Interesting variant with the grocery chain Save-a-Lot, which is known for selling mostly its own, off-brand products instead of national brands: their store brand cola, Bubba, comes in both red and blue cans. This is presumably to placate both Coca-Cola and Pepsi drinkers into thinking that it will taste like their favorite product; there is no difference between red-can Bubba and blue-can Bubba.
One facet of this that is very prominent in consumer electronics is the reuse or licensing out of brands, often to the point of rendering them meaningless. The names of well-known companies that went bankrupt are often bought and used by unrelated companies or licensed out to the highest bidder. At worst, this can mislead those buying on the strength of the original company's reputation if they were unaware of its demise.
Commodore, who made the C64, Amiga and other computers, went bankrupt in 1994. The name has since changed hands several times, often being used for services and products that have no real connection with the original company.
Video game developers Infogames changed their name to Atari a few years back.
Since Polaroid Corporation went bankrupt in 2001, the name has been licensed to sellers of otherwise generic TVs and DVD players. The current owners appear to at least be making some effort to maintain brand integrity/identity, with their "Pogo" portable printer and camera line.
"Bush" — once a well-known British radio brand — was bought by Alba, whose goods were primarily low-end products imported from China. "Alba" itself was renamed after a defunct company (and they later changed it back after selling on the "Bush" and "Alba" brands). Alba also once co-owned the rights to the Grundig name (after the original went bankrupt). These are now held by the Turkish Beko company. We could go on, but you get the point...
RCA, once a big name in the US electronics market, was broken up in the mid-80s. The rights to RCA electronics went to Thomson, which nowadays licenses the name to various manufacturers who make and sell the "RCA" branded products seen in shops.
Existing companies with a well-known brand or name will often license that name for use on products made and sold by other companies. Examples include:
TDK sold their recordable media division to Imation in late 2007, along with the right to use their name on discs, etc. Imation also owns the rights to sell "HP" and "IBM" branded media. Then again, most brand-name CDs and DVDs are actually manufactured by one of very few big disc makers (e.g. CMC Magnetics, Verbatim, Taiyo Yuden).
Imation also bought the rights to the Memorex name. That's right: two former competitors of Imation are now owned by them.
JCB, a British company famous for its diggers (backhoes) etc. licensed its name to the aforementioned Alba for a range of consumer-oriented power tools and other products.
Philips televisions, at least in the US and Canada, are now made by Japanese manufacturer Funai — the same company which has also been given the rights to the Sylvania and Emerson brands.
Often the manufacturers and owners associated with famous brands are totally different depending on where you live. The reasons often goes back as far as the early 20th century, where the sale of rights, break-ups and/or sell-offs along national lines resulted in a confusing mishmash. This wasn't necessarily a problem until recently, when the Internet made it harder to keep them separate. Examples:
"Nipper" (the dog peering into an old-fashioned gramophone) is the logo of HMV record stores in the UK, but not used by them in Japan because it's owned by Victor Company there. Victor is in turn known as "JVC" elsewhere because it doesn't have the international rights to the former name, taken from their one-time US parent, later taken over by RCA who got the US rights to the logo.
The Hoover Company's European division was sold off in the early-1990s, and is now unrelated to the current owners of the company and brand in the US.
Thrift Store Chic. Full stop. Normal clothing applies too; far too many people spend $60 or more on a pair of jeans, when one can get an identical pair at a department store for a fraction of the price. I can't understand why people would shell out 3 digits on clothes that are faded, paint-stained, stretched, torn, etc. In other words, they're spending top dollars to look like they came out of a thrift store.
Strangely and marvellously, this is a demonstrated component of the Placebo effect. It's been shown that when people are given sugar pills in expensive brand-label packaging, it has a greater effect than the exact same sugar pills in generic white boxes. Along similar lines, two sugar pills taken together have a greater effect than one taken alone, and salt-water injections have a still greater effect; the treatment is made to seem more dramatic (and thus more efficacious). That's before you start getting into the even stranger Nocebo effect, where a drug is administered that should have a given effect, but the patient is primed to believe it will have the opposite effect - and reports what they expected to happen rather than what, biologically, actually happened. Ben Goldacre has much to say on these topics.
It's not quite designer water, but by law, all vodka sold in the U.S. is identical.
The so-called "Designer Dogs" fall under this. For some reason, people would rather pay $500 for something called a "Puggle" (a Pug/Beagle mix) rather than adopt something called a "Pug/Beagle Mix" from their local animal shelter. This is most likely due to the idea/misconception that anything that sounds like it has a "pedigree" is more likely to be healthier than a "mutt".
This can fall under pretty much any pet as well. People, for reasons unknown, tend to view "pedigree" or "exotic" pets in higher standards than your more "standard" pets. For example, among reptiles, your common corn snake may cost around $20 whereas the more exotic python may be upwards of around $60.
It's taken even further with what color/pattern the reptile is. Certain patterns found on various species of snake, lizard, or turtle are considered to be rarer and therefore more "valuable" than others.
Goldfish certainly apply. Your common "pet store" goldfish may only cost a couple of dollars. More "fancy" breeds (Such as lionheads, pearlscales, and whatnot) tend to be far more expensive.
Most electronics like computers, MP3 players, televisions, and other products have their popularity with consumers based by brand name and their history. It is understandable that every brand has their ups and downs in their products so people will be biased in which brand they will go with. However, when it comes to electronic accessories like audio/video cables, headphones, etc., most of these electronic accessories have the same performance and longevity as their more expensive name brand counterparts. For example, there is an HDMI cable by the Monster brand that can go as high as $250 whereas a generic brand of the same product can go for $10 and the difference between the two is usually so miniscule that you'd have to be an audiophile and videophile to actually see and hear any difference.
Major brands sometimes sell part of the output of their production lines to store brand use. A customer of mine told how he worked for Borden in Michigan back in the 1970s. The company ran a production line where, from 8 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon, the plant produced ice cream. At 3pm, the production line was stopped, the empty cartons marked "Borden Premium Vanilla Ice Cream" were removed, and new cartons reading "Kroger Premium Vanilla Ice Cream" (Kroger is a supermarket chain) were inserted, and the line restarted until 5. It's the exact same product, only the store brand is less expensive.
A study published by Stanford university demonstrated that people rated wines as better quality when the wines were labeled as more expensive— even though that wasn't actually the case; the labels were intentionally misleading. Yet the participants still enjoyed the wine more when they believed it cost more. This demonstrates how this trope may be related to the Placebo Effect, and probably reveals a fair bit about human nature.