Thursday, July 26, 2012

What’s the Difference?

Having some options is usually a good thing. You don’t want to be stuck with something just because it was the only thing available. However sometimes I find it overwhelming the shear number of options available to me when I’m shopping for something. Obviously there are different brands, but then within a brand there are usually numerous versions of the virtually the same product. Sometimes I’ll stand in an aisle and stare at the various products and wonder how different are they really? (Perhaps the company just added an extra ingredient to an existing product and put it in a different box and just marketed it as an entirely new product.)

If you already know what you want when you walk into a store, then you’ll ignore all of the other options and just pluck out your chosen item. However, if the item you usually buy gets discontinued or they change it in some way that you dislike, then you’re forced to find a replacement. And then comes the staring in the aisle. Then comes reading the copy on the boxes to compare the products. Then comes comparing the prices. And it all turns out to be quite a bit of work. [Sigh.]

I was in the toothpaste aisle at a store and was overwhelmed by all the choices there. Besides fighting cavities there were so many other decisions to make: paste or gel? Whitening toothpaste? (And if so, which kind of whitening toothpaste? Whitening that fights tarter? Whitening that uses baking soda? Whitening that’s clinically proven?) Or do you want toothpaste that reinforces enamel or helps gums stay strong or germ fighting for 12 hours? I’m surprised there's not a little chart in the aisle so you can compare all the toothpastes to find just which one is right for you…because I kind of felt like I needed one.

Sometimes I wish things were more streamlined because it seems like any item you might need in your daily life has at least ten different options (e.g. toothpaste, soap, shampoo, detergent, etc.). It’s just such an ordeal to select anything. And while I don’t want too few options, I also don’t want too many—especially since most of the options seem fairly redundant to me. [Pause.] Redundant.

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