We are told that having choice matters and more choice equals progress. Some choices do make a difference, but most don’t, they are false and largely driven by marketing and branding.
On entering a supermarket you will be confronted with innumerable and largely irrelevant variations on a theme. For example, out of the seemingly endless different kinds of toothpaste which one should we choose? Plaque destroyer or gum protector, whitening or sensitive, fluoride or not, bicarbonate of soda paste, tartar control or enamel enhancer; I kid you not these are all real things. There is even one which on its packaging claims to be “Luminous with Smart Foam” – what you mean it glows in the dark and froths tidily?
It does not end there. Let us consider washing powder. Here, the plethora of possibilities is even broader. To begin with you are confronted with a choice of type, bio or not, tablet or powder or the latest wheeze capsules you put in the washing machine drum. Or how about liquid ones with fresheners, whiteners, bleach or not, eco friendly or kind to your clothes! Kind to your clothes; you cannot be serious? All this before you even choose a brand! I have even discovered one brand whose web site has a whole section on how it is working for a cleaner planet. What are they doing, washing the grass, scrubbing the trees, disinfecting the deserts, whitening the snow! Oh please give me strength.
It is the same with shampoo and shower gel, deodorants and hair colours, and I wonder how many more blades can manufactures actually put in a disposable razors. Read the labels – one worldwide company is responsible for dozens of different brands of hair products. One of these brands even says on its web site that “it is s all about self-expression. We know that when you want to express your true personality, hair matters.” Really I thought it was to keep my head clean. Marketing madness and all this before you even try to buy an onion!
I would like to propose a solution.
In the UK there is a move afoot to make all cigarette-packaging the same, complete with health warnings and pictures of blackened lungs and most folk think this is a good idea. I would like to suggest that we extend this to more products such as those I have mentioned here.
If manufactures wanted to place a claim of efficacy for their product then they would have to show the justification, a web page for example with links to the peer reviewed paper confirming their assertion. How much cheaper would these things be without the multicoloured boxes or the endless differently shaped bottles of essentially the same stuff?
Supermarkets and marketing are designed to render you powerless in the face of so much impossible choice. We spend indiscriminately on stuff we don’t need and are overcharged in the process.
This way madness lies.
Please just stop it.