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You may feel that, following my cereal post, I have no right to speak out against an overabundance of variety. Yet take a peek at this, won’t you? This is the sight that greets the casual toothpaste shopper of a day:

Too Many Toothpastes!

That, friends, was the toothpaste section at Target as seen at noon today. What’s more is that this is only the COLGATE section of the toothpaste section! I feel the picture does not do justice to the bewildering array of choices avalanching upon the consumer, so here’s a little recording of me reading off the flavors and kinds.

Yes, I was doing that on my phone as people were shopping around me. I imagined they would believe I was a simpleton boyfriend listing the toothpastes over the phone to my girlfriend because, had I come home with the wrong kind… Well, you know what girlfriends are like.

Now, despite the audio-visual aids, I still do not feel I have impressed upon you, gentle reader, the true scope of Colgate’s offerings. Text is often mightier than multimedia, so here, cobbled from various lists off the Colgate website, is their current spate of toothpaste options (all ®s and ™s removed to, ironically, dispense with clutter):

Cavity Protection Great Regular Flavor
Cavity Protection Winterfresh Gel
Total Whitening Paste
Total Whitening Gel
Total Clean Mint Paste
Total Mint Stripe Gel
Total Advanced Fresh Gel
Total 2in1 Advanced Fresh Gel
Max Fresh Cinnamint Tube
Max Fresh Cinnamint Bottle
Max Fresh Cool Mint Tube
Max Fresh Cool Mint Bottle
Max Fresh Clean Mint Tube
Max Fresh Clean Mint Bottle
2in1 Oxygen Whitening Cool Mint
2in1 Whitening with Tartar Control
2in1 Icy Blast Whitening Gel
2in1 Kids Bubble Gum
2in1 Kids Watermelon
Tartar Control Whitening Crisp Mint Paste
Tartar Control Whitening Cool Mint Gel
Sensitive Maximum Strength Plus Whitening Fresh Stripe
Fresh Confidence with Whitening Gel
Luminous Crystal Clean Mint
Luminous Paradise Fresh
Luminous Cinnamint
Simply White Advanced Whitening Spearmint
Simply White Advanced Whitening Sparkling Mint
Sparkling White Mint Zing
Sparkling White Cinnamon Spice
Sparkling White Vanilla Mint
Baking Soda & Peroxide Fresh Mint Stripe Paste
Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening Oxygen Bubbles Brisk Mint Paste
Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening Oxygen Bubbles Frosty Mint Striped Gel
Dora the Explorer Mild Bubble Fruit
SpongeBob SquarePants Bubble Fruit
Barbie Sparkling Bubble Fruit

If you find yourself flummoxed by this vast register, the Colgate site has a handy dentifrice interface for choosing which of their 37 breeds will suit you.

Me? I still use the original Colgate—now called, simply, “Cavity Protection Great Regular Flavor.” Though the “Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening Oxygen Bubbles Brisk Mint Paste” sounds nice. Or maybe I’ll start using Crest. After all, they have 42 kinds of toothpaste. I applaud that commitment to consumer choice!


Mom Expounded Thusly:

I couldn’t open the video! Sure wish I knew someone who could upgrade my Mac for me. Sigh!

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006 • 9:21pm • Permalink

Steve, from IT, Expounded Thusly:

It’s just an audio clip, and it should open no problem, especially on a Mac. Well, we’ll have to see what I find over Labor Day…

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006 • 1:42pm • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

Thanks very much to The Consumerist for mentioning this post on their site today! The Consumerist is a great site. Y’all go check it out now, y’hear?

Thursday, August 17th, 2006 • 2:59pm • Permalink

winnie Expounded Thusly:

Hey, they do this for a very specific reason, if you think about it. The more varieties they make, the more space Target has to devote to their products, and the more eyeballs (or cameras, apparently) see it.

Campbells soup does the same thing, and they actually now sell (or give away)their own shelf system to guarantee the real estate.

Friday, August 18th, 2006 • 9:24am • Permalink

Steve, Clean of Tooth, Expounded Thusly:

Yeah, you’re right. I have been peeved over the overabundance of types of just about everything these days. The fact that I even think there are too many Oreo flavors—an admission that shocks even me, a lover of Oreos—demonstrates how annoying it has become.

I think comapnies also do it because many consumer products have fallen into the Hollywood syndrome. If you don’t have a new and exciting product every six months, you’ll be a horrible failure! The only way to keep your brand fresh in the minds of people is to create a new version of one of your products. It’s a horrible cycle, where the consumer gets excited by a new flavor of BLANK, the new flavor sells well, a competitor comes out with they one new flavor of BUNK, and maybe it steals market share from BLANK, so BLANK comes out with yet another new flavor.

As the new flavor war starts to really ramp up, the consumer, who in the beginning never really thought that they needed a new flavor but was interested that one was intorduced, starts to get bored more easily as new flavors become the norm. Or perhaps this is simply a perception the companies have of the consumer. Regardless, as the consumer appears to become more fickle and choosy and “demands” more flavors, the companies have to become more and more inventive on a faster cycle.

That’s one of my theories, though working for Disney, I can say for sure I’m not too off the mark here.

One problem with all this creation of new products is that, inevitably, some of them won’t survive. Many products I have come to use have vanished to make way for newer, flashier, stupider variations. It’s even a joke to myself: Once I start using a product and buy it regularly, I can be assured it will disappear within a year or two, and my experimentation to find a replacement shampoo, soda, deoderant, laundry detergent, etc. begins anew.

And blah blah blah!

I could talk about this for hours!

Friday, August 18th, 2006 • 10:15am • Permalink

The Wren Forum » I Dream of Toothbrushes Expounded Thusly:

[…] part of the dream may sound stupid, but it’s not. In fact, it’s about as correct a reflection of the waking world as you can expect from a […]

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 • 2:07pm • Permalink • This is a Pingback

Steve Expounded Thusly:

What I really should have called this, I’m discovering, is “pseudovariety.” Here it is in the realm of softdrinks.

Friday, August 20th, 2010 • 9:41am • Permalink


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