Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Forget Exceptionalism, now it's American Excessivism


Because 51 kinds of toothpaste just isn't enough!

Mint Chocolate Trek, Lime Spearmint Zest, and  Vanilla Mint Spark are three new 'flavors' of toothpaste being offered by Crest.

Now I don't really care that Crest offers 51 products in its line, nor do I really care that they now offer chocolate toothpaste.  I use Crest Pro Choice, not because I did any deep thinking or analysis, but because it's what my wife buys.  I reach into the drawer in the vanity and pull out toothpaste... what kind, I don't really care so long as it isn't that revolting glittery bubblegum flavored stuff my kids used to use.

The silliness of it all

Some people do some deep thinking on the subject.  Psychologists David Myers and Robert Lane concluded that the abundance of choice leads to depression and feelings of loneliness.  Barry Schwarz in A Paradox of Choice argued that with too many choices we begin to consider the hypothetical tradeoffs and the possibility of missed opportunities reduces our level of satisfaction.

Me, I think it's silly... it's just toothpaste.  I don't think all my teeth are going to fall out if I pick the wrong one, nor am I concerned that I may be missing out on the best tasting toothpaste in the world.

Is it choice or marketing?

My wife and I have two completely different methods of shopping.  I walk into a store, get what I need, and leave... if it's toothpaste I'm probably just going to grab something familiar or something on sale without giving it much thought.  If I go to the store for cheese, I come home with cheese.  My wife will come home with three or four bags of stuff... and may have forgotten cheese ;)  It's why we generally don't grocery shop together.

I tell my wife she's Madison Avenue's Dream Girl... we have a Swiffer, a Swabber, and whatever other gimmick they've developed as the latest iteration of a mop... me I'll clean the kitchen floor with a bucket and a scrub brush and think it does a better job.  Do you think there is $8 difference in performance between $2 toothpaste and $10 toothpaste? Or for that matter $20 Dickie's or $650 Gucci's?  Forget that last one, there is a difference... Dickie's last longer and are more comfortable.

What do you think?

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