Thursday, October 8, 2009

scented handles

I opened a generic pack of Target razors this morning and was hit by a cloying flowery smell. It turns out that the handles were scented. I checked the package and yes, there on the back, in small type, was "scented handles." I have to ask, WHY ON EARTH would someone think to scent handles? There must have been countless meetings about whether or not to "scent." Endless discussions about what possible advantage there would be to having a smell-able product. Users could find their razors in the dark perhaps? The odor would stick to their hands the rest of the day, subtly reminding them to shave again? Once the product designers decided to go ahead with it, people must have worked for months on picking the right floral notes that suggested bathing suit revealing smooth legs. Someone created the chemical additives to mix into the plastic. Copyrighters had to spin the fact into package copy. And this was for a generic store brand, which was basically ripping off the "technology" and marketing features of name brands (let me name Bic here).

I purposely bought generic so I wouldn't be confronted the overpowering stench my Bic Soleil's gave off. But, now I've got four more razors to get through until I make my next purchase. Call me a Luddite, but I just want plain razors that effectively do their job without extra bells and whistles. I hate that there are so many options available—purchasing a simple item now requires far too much analysis and thought.

Which brings me to Oreos. I remember when double stuff Oreos hit the market. What a brilliant concepts. I was already making my own—I'd take two, eat the cookie side off each, then smoosh the cream sides together. Heaven. And now they came, ready made (I have to confess, I made my own quadruple stuff Oreos, but that was a bit much). But now, Oreos have their own section in the supermarket. There are regular, chocolate cream, mint cream, peanut butter cream, "special edition" strawberry cream, golden (vanilla cookies) with both vanilla and chocolate cream, Oreo Cakesters in regular, chocolate cream and golden, Oreo Funsticks (cookie tubes with cream inside) also in chocolate and vanilla, Oreo minis in boxes, round containers that are for "on the go," and 100 calories pre-packed servings. It turns out that I can't just buy Oreos for my family, every has a strong allegience to a specific kind.

Someone actually made buying Oreos stressful. How sad is that?


Jeremy said...

I remember reading once an article on Lucky Charms and how they introduce new marshmallow shapes and colors periodically. The company folks said that every time they introduced a new marshmallow, there was a long-lasting increase in sales.

As far as all of that other product-development stuff goes, it often seems like it's people just justifying their existence in these companies. If you're in product development, well you *have* to develop new products, no?

On the flip side, think of all the product advancements which were *rejected*.

Elissa Stein said...

Now *that* would be a fascinating project—failed improvements.