Expert vs. professional

When buying supplies for a new craft, you’ll find products under four broad kinds of labels:

One might think that “expert” and “professional” are the same but they can actually be opposites. An expert is someone with advanced skills who’s able to take advantage of tools that are too tricky for a beginner. On the other hand, a professional is someone who makes money from their craft and can afford supplies that makes their work easier. Therefore, a beginner with money might prefer professional-grade tools as long as they’re not only suitable for experts.

Naturally, using two different labels to advertise products goes in the way of effective marketing, which prefers simpler formulas. For the customer, the recipe is simple: if you can afford it, buy professional-grade supplies. Of course you’ll have to make sure that they indeed make your work easier. Now, there is the other dimension - beginner vs. expert. While some tools may be cheaper, they may only be suited to experts. An extreme example and metaphor is bicycle training wheels. Here, an expert - an ordinary bicycle rider - doesn’t need to buy training wheels. Riding without training wheels is faster and cheaper. In that case, the expert-level product is no product at all. Not many actual products fall into the cheap-product-for-experts category, though, because experts are often also professionals who can afford and will pay for better tools.

Martin Jambon, September 10, 2022