Originally Posted by MuttGrunt
There is not a "big" difference, but there is a difference. Not all over the counter waxes are meant to be cleaner waxes which can either be loaded with chemical cleaners, abrasives, or both. Many over the counter waxes do contain traces of these to help their "performance" (they're formulated to what 99% of car owners need) in giving you a better look from your paint.
Professional/enthusiast grade waxes generally do not contain such things, as they're made to only protect and add gloss (these are made for the >1% of car owners). If you're the type of person that clays and carefully washes your car (and potentially polishes your paint), you can benefit from these higher grade products as they'll typically last longer.
In the end, you're always better off using products in a way that you apply an additional layer of protection prior to the last layer wearing off. In this way, using Mother's Gold 'nuba wax every month is better than using any professional grade wax every three months. While over the counter waxes don't tend to layer as well (slight abrasives can remove previous layers during application), pro-grade waxes don't truly layer either (the fresh application of solvents can weaken the wax underneath). Layering wax is about having uniform protection, not more protection.
I understand what you are saying. I do detailing as a side job now and then and have seen people use OTC cleaner waxes on their cars every week. The end result is always pretty bad. The paint is dull with a lot of swirls and holograms which they think the wax takes out. And of course the cleaner wax never really tackles swirls and scratches.
I always only use LSPs that have no cleaning properties and do polishing separately. I just wanted to point out that there is a difference between a pure wax vs a cleaner wax.