Sunday, May 16, 2010

Paralyzed by Choice

I recently ventured into my grocery store's "health and beauty" aisle on a quest to acquire a tube of toothpaste. Doesn't sound like a great challenge, does it? After all, there's lots to choose from. Too much, in fact. That's the problem.

To begin with, there are, of course, several brands to choose from. Crest? Colgate? Closeup? Aquafresh? Ultra brite? That's to be expected. Then I need to decide if I want a paste or a gel, or maybe one of those swirly paste/gel combos. What really drives me nuts, though, is the plethora of specialties within each brand. Do I go for tartar control? Cavity prevention? Whitening? What if I want all of the above? What if I want to control tartar, prevent cavities and whiten my teeth? Fear not! They've thought of that too. There's "Colgate Total" or "Crest Multicare" for demanding bastards like me who have to have it all. Of course, this does beg the question why anybody would buy one of those one-trick-pony toothpastes rather than the one that does everything. They generally cost about the same amount. Maybe some people just don't need all of that. Maybe there are people out there with dingy, yellow teeth who just never get tartar buildup or cavities, so all they need is whitening toothpaste. I don't know.

It's the same with over-the-counter cold medications. I recently went to get come Contac-C. I didn't have a cold, but we were low and I like to have some around for when someone does catch a cold. There's a Contac-C for sinus congestion, one for runny noses, one for coughs, one for colds and flus, one for sore throats, one for fevers and let's not even get into night-time or non-drowsy! What if I buy the wrong one? What if I buy the Contac-C for colds and flus and then get a sore throat? Boy, wouldn't I feel like an idiot! Knowing me, I'd wind up with a medicine cabinet full of six different kinds of Contac-C that cure every ailment except for the one that I happen to have.

Excuse me sounding like an old fart but my life is complicated enough without having to stress out over which toothpaste or cold remedy to buy. I just want a toothpaste that cleans my teeth, okay? That means whitening, tartar control and cavity protection. The same goes for cold remedies. Just give me something that relieves the usual cold symptoms. You can even drop the night-time versions. Just because a cold remedy is "non-drowsy" doesn't necessarily mean that it will actually keep me awake if I take it at night, does it? If I happen to take it before bed, I'll get to sleep on my own.

Obviously, there are costs involved in developing and creating all that varied packaging for essentially one product; both the cost of creating the packaging itself and the marketing costs involved in researching and developing it. Why not keep it simple, and pass the savings on to consumers?


Candy said...

Gee Andy, why don't you do like my 89 year old parents do and have the pharmacist choose one for you.

Tubes said...

I hear ya!
I always go for the ones that do everything. I don't think they are any less capable because they are jack of all trades....