What is quality creep? Definition and example

Quality creep occurs when improvements in the quality of a product over time are bad for sales. The manufacturer improves the quality of the product over time, while also increasing its price. However, it also prices itself too high, which results in a drop in demand. Put simply; it is a phenomenon in which an improvement in a product’s quality eventually diminishes its appeal in the marketplace.

When the product’s price goes too high, consumers will look for a cheaper alternative or substitute good to replace it. Substitute goods are products that can replace each other, such as Coke and Pepsi.

If there is no cheaper substitute good, the consumer will look for an alternative product.

Monash Business School in Australia has the following definition of Quality Creep:
“A phenomenon which, in a counter-productive way, impels a manufacturer to enhance a product over time, increasing its price and thereby diminishing its appeal to the market segment for which it was originally intended.

Quality Creep - example
Beware of improving the product and raising its price if the market does not need or want the improvements.


In most cases, the seller is unaware of what is going to happen until it is too late. The verb ‘to creep’ means to develop or occur gradually and almost imperceptibly.

The noun ‘creep‘ is a steady, slow movement that is usually imperceptible.

The verb and noun ‘creep’ also have other meanings, but in the context of this article, they are not relevant.

Scope, feature, and quality creep

There are three business terms that have the word creep: scope creep, feature creep, and quality creep.

Quality creep

The manufacturer keeps improving the product and raising its price over time. Eventually, it becomes too expensive for the market and demand declines. In other words, sales fall.

Scope creep

We use this term in projects. Scope creep refers to the uncontrolled addition of requirements. Subsequently, the project goes over-budget and misses deadlines.

Feature creep

Feature creep refers to the addition of too many features to a good or service. It subsequently becomes less valuable to customers and demand falls.

Video – What is Quality Creep

Learn more about Quality Creep in this video from our sister channel at YouTube, Marketing Business News.