Consumerism Melbourne

I’m confused


Toothpaste varieties at Safeway

There’s a bewildering number of varieties in just the Colgate brand. This is what the Safeway Homeshop site lists, excluding things like Pump packs and size variations:

Colgate Toothpaste 2in1 Gel Whitening
Colgate Toothpaste 2in1 Liquid Gel Icy Blast
Colgate Toothpaste 2in1 Max Fresh Cool Mint
Colgate Toothpaste Advanced Whitening
Colgate Toothpaste Baking Soda & Peroxide
Colgate Toothpaste Blue Minty Gel
Colgate Toothpaste Coolmint
Colgate Toothpaste Fluroide Great
Colgate Toothpaste Fresh Stripe Sensitive
Colgate Toothpaste Great Regular Flavour
Colgate Toothpaste Max Fresh Coolmint
Colgate Toothpaste Max White
Colgate Toothpaste Professional Clean
Colgate Toothpaste Sensitive Multi Protection
Colgate Toothpaste Sensitive Whitening
Colgate Toothpaste Simply White Sparking Mint
Colgate Toothpaste Total + Whitening
Colgate Toothpaste Total
Colgate Toothpaste Total Advance Fresh
Colgate Toothpaste Total Long Lasting
Colgate Toothpaste Total Mint Stripe
Colgate Toothpaste Total Whitening
Colgate Toothpaste Triple Action
Colgate Toothpaste Whitening Plus Tartar Control

Beyond perhaps a preference for a particular mint flavour etc, how can you possibly know which is the best?

I suspect the one they’d most like you to buy is the most expensive version, which also has the most shiny bits on the packet to attract your attention. (“Ooh — shiny!”)

Perhaps in reality they are all virtually the same, and they’re just hoping to dominate the market by providing every possible feature and package colour anybody could want?

Likewise dish washing tablets… I usually buy Finish brand. 4-in-one… 5-in-one… all-in-one… MAX-in-one?! What’s the difference?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

13 replies on “I’m confused”

That’s why I like shopping at my neighbourhood IGA (which we like to pronounce “Eye-gah”) — very limited selection, generally offering a couple of choices at each price point. I don’t need 53 varieties of loo paper to choose from. I kid you not -the woolworths/safeway website lists 53 loo paper products!.

yeah, but try finding a toothpaste that *doesn’t* taste of mint… had to trundle off to my local wholefoods place for that!

I believe Colgate don’t care which of their products you buy. As long as they have so many different ones to choose from they can fill up the shelves and push their competitors to obscurity on the shelf ends.

I don’t mean to get all tinfoil-hat on you, but they’re pretty much all the same. In fact, pretty much all toothpaste is the same. Apart from a few bells and whistles, it hasn’t changed much from what it was when it was first invented – a sweetened, abrasive gel. I’ve got a friend who is allergic to some of the ingredients in toothpaste and brushes his teeth with salt water instead – it works fine, but tastes horrible.

In Melbourne, we’ve got fluoride in the tap water but an excess of fluoride is only harmful to children so any extra is probably a bonus, I guess. Strangely for something that we’re encouraged to put in our mouth, toothpaste is carcinogenic. Swallowing it can cause nausea and diarrhoea in small amounts, and is toxic in larger amounts.

Also, whitening products other than professional treatments from your dentist generally range from very ineffective to a complete waste of money.

I seem to have got carried away with this, but in short: buy the cheap toothpaste, or the one made by the company you prefer, and stop worrying about it.

I like Colgate Total. The Total products have triclosan in them which kills bacteria and I like the way it feels after I brush my teeth. That being said probably almost any toothpaste and brushing every day is good enough. In the USA cinnamon flavored toothpaste and mouthwash is available. Did you notice that the Colgate Total is on the center shelf? This is where supermarkets stock their most popular and profitable products. Product manufactures will often pay a supermarket to have their products stocked in this premium space.

Yeah Jed, the cheapie Colgates (without the shiny bits on the packet) are usually on the bottom shelf.

I’ve often suspected the brushing action itself does most of the work in cleaning your teeth, though of course the toothpaste helps too.

What appalling presentation on thoose shelves.

One of the things that is done in retail is known as ‘facing up’. That is when all the products are brought to the front of the shelf to give the appearance that the shelves are fully stocked.

I noticed on my last trip to one supermarket, the bewildering array of nurofen products – nurofen for back pain, migraine, tension headachesa and period pain, all containing the same amount of ibuprofen (active ingredient) as regular supermarket nurofen – 200mg! The supermarkets shout from the roof tops about the huge range of products they offer, when in reality they only offer one or two options, just in 50 styles of packaging.

Has anyone noticed that Coles only stocks limited range of stuff? Like only the stuff that Coca-Cola owns, you’d be surprised what they own now.

A few years ago the big supermarkets made a deliberate decision to reduce the number of suppliers and product lines they stock, in the interests of simplifying their supply chains…now you see the results.

From Howard Kuntler’s blog: “[permanent economic collapse] and the supermarket shelves cease to groan with eighty-seven different varieties of flavored coffee creamers”

I’ll leave you to find the URL – Warning: foul language.

Yep, I’m off to my nearest Aldi [which averages about 700 products v. Coles/Woolies at 30 000 products].

ps. Late comment coz I’m looking over older stuff for the first time.

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