Monday, February 12, 2007

The Toothpaste Dilemma

The ridiculous number of different kinds of toothpaste can be unnecessarily overwhelming. Consider the following options: White, colored, striped, paste or gel, additives in the paste that run the gamut from fluoride to plaque control with all kinds of combinations, paste for tooth whitening, for sensitive teeth, for smokers, paste with mouthwash, in tubes, in squeeze bottles, a plethora of different flavors, with baking soda, paste that turns any gunk you've missed after brushing the color of blue so you can brush again. Just a partial list, to be sure.

What is the objective of brushing your teeth? To prevent cavities, or show your individuality? To have healthy gums, or sand-blast the enamel off your teeth? And rest assured, each different variety is BETTER than any of the others, with NEW AND IMPROVED varieties hitting the shelves ad nauseum.

To walk into a store and visit the tooth care aisle is a study in the remarkable redundancy of the American marketing system. Inundate the customer with choices. Lure the eye with brightly colored packaging that SCREAMS about the efficacy of the tooth care product. Toothpastes to fit any decor, any mood, any lifestyle, any personality. Now THAT'S what America is all about!

I have watched people in the toothpaste aisle. A boring activity perhaps, but fascinating in what it reveals. There are people who spend more time choosing a toothpaste, than choosing a candidate for President Of The United States. So, after these folks make the all-important choice of an oral scrubbing agent, woe to them if they also need a TOOTHBRUSH!

The same marketing strategy is used. The choices? All colors of the rainbow, flat handles, round handles, ergonomically designed comfort handles, straight handles, curved handles, bristles from extra soft and mushy to extra firm and rigid, flat bristles, rounded bristles, combinations of bristles, handles with little rubber erasers on the end for gum 'stimulation' (gum stimulation?), handles with built-in floss dispensers, electric brushes with rotating bristles, electric brushes that vibrate so much they could double for a marital aid, and a tooth brush that is not a brush at all that uses water. And floss and mouthwash? Don't even get me started on those!

We are bombarded with choices for oral care the same we are bombarded for most other consumer goods. From baked beans to condoms, consumers are offered choice after choice after choice, with the cost of those choices equal to their newness or uniqueness. Plain old toothpaste (when you can find it) costs a hell of a lot less than the fancy stuff.

One of the best tooth cleansers is baking soda. It works great and it's cheap. But it tastes nasty. So I strike the middle ground. I buy plain old toothpaste at $0. 98 a tube. It's white, doesn't taste too bad, and most likely works as well as the fancy stuff.

I still get snookered on the marketing ploys, but not as much as I used to, and by golly not on toothpaste. It has become so ingrained in all of us, it is hard behavior to stop. But the older I get, the less I care about some things. Designer toothpaste is on that list for sure.

So just say 'NO MORE!' American Consumer! Defeat the marketers of designer toothpaste! It is a small step, but do it! Today, toothpaste! Tomorrow, the world!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey thereAlan!

Great post/article!

You said it! People spend more time choosing toothpaste then they do choosing a president!

Today, toothpaste! Tomorrow, the world!


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