Over the years there have been some very crafty marketing ploys that have increased sales of various products dramatically if perhaps artificially. Take for instance the addition of the word ‘repeat’ after the instructions ‘wet hair, apply shampoo, lather and rinse’ which must have doubled shampoo use. But do we really need to shampoo twice?
Maybe the best example is the story of the Hathaway Company’s Madras shirt that ran in the wash, blurring the colors. As management went into panic mode when so many were returned to retailers, someone had the bright idea that the solution was to inform the buying public that these color shenanigans were supposed to happen. If fact the shirts were ‘guaranteed to bleed’!
My contribution of sorts: I have probably bought twice as much plastic wrap as I have used simply because I usually find myself balling up and throwing out the first (in honesty sometimes the second as well) sheet of wrap after it sticks together and becomes an unusable wad. There was a time in my life when I tried to unball the wrap, determined not to let it win. But with age comes wisdom and I now concede that it has me beaten. Perhaps a small part of me even admires this devious power, much like a prizefighter often respects his vanquisher.
But it recently dawned on me that perhaps the granddaddy of what I call product overuse is dental floss. No one can deny that daily flossing is an integral part of a proper oral hygiene regimen. To get into those difficult places between your teeth and get out any bacteria-causing food particles requires about three or four inches of dental floss. But to get a good grip on those inches so you can maneuver the floss you need to use about three or four extra inches at each end. That’s about a foot of dental floss, only four inches of which is involved in actual floss to tooth action.
To make matters worse, or better if you are in the dental floss business, once folks started getting a grip, they adapted the product to ensure overuse. Image a boardroom full of antsy suits fearing a down tick in floss usage that may well derail their career. All of a sudden, out of the blue, someone, maybe the same person who suggested repeating the shampoo process, jumps up and shouts ‘I’ve got it, we’ll wax the stuff. No one will be able to hang on to it!’.
Don’t ya just love marketing?