Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shampoo Marketing

Recently, I needed shampoo. Now, for the last 44 years my wife has been the procurer of all things shampoo; not that it is a difficult task, but she just gets it while she’s shopping. (And besides, it’s in her job description.) However, this time I happened to be in our local RiteAid drugstore, and realized “I can do this.”

So, I found the aisle where shampoo is located, ready to make a hasty selection and move on, when I came face-to-face with a myriad of selections I never conceived possible. I found shampoo for straight hair, for curly hair, for dry hair, for women’s hair, for men’s hair, for thin hair (I couldn’t find any for “fat hair.”), for color-treated hair, for baby’s, for African American’s. They even had shampoo for “normal” hair. Imagine that.

I got so confused by all these choices, and being of a technical persuasion, I decided to make a market research project out of this kaleidoscopic mass of merchandising facing me. So, I started counting. I counted the top row, and the second row, the next row, and the bottom row. There was a total of 94 different varieties of shampoo! Now, mind you, this is just “varieties;” I counted two sizes as “one” variety.

Then, just when I was shaking my head in amazement, I turned around and noticed that the shelves behind me had even more shampoo! People walking by must have wondered why a gray-haired gentleman was on his hands and knees pointing at bottles of shampoo. But I didn’t care, I was on a mission!

By the time I finished, I had counted 278 distinct varieties of shampoo! 278! Now, why would a store need to requisition, purchase, stock, code, check and count 278 different styles of … shampoo? That is American consumerism gone nuts! Are the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers really making money? ‘Beats me. I just know that from now on, I’m going to continue letting my Chief Procurement Officer buy shampoo for me.

So, after all this “research,” what shampoo did I select? Why, the one with Apple Pectin & Cucumber, of course. And how did I come to that decision? Just like any red-blooded American male would … because it was the cheapest.

by J.D. Holmes

POSTSCRIPT: The above research project occurred about a month ago. Just this morning inside the plastic wrap surrounding the Sunday newspaper came a free sample from Gillette of a new and improved, deep-cleaning shampoo possessing 75% more cleansers than the leading men’s shampoo, with an “all day clean you can feel.” Wow! 279 choices!
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