Talk about pain-based selling

April 22 - Soap in Eye How many
hundreds of millions of dollars a year do you think the large consumer products
companies spend in research and development? My guess is ‘many.’ How many years
have the mega consumer brands such as Unilever, Procter & Gamble and
Colgate-Palmolive been in business? My guess is ‘many.’ So, how come they still
produce soap and shampoo that burns the bejesus out of my eyes when I use them?

Today was
a textbook example. I was minding my own business, finishing up what had been a
most uneventful shower when I applied some Pantene shampoo to my scalp (my
daughter loves this stuff). Sure enough, I started to feel a slight sensation
in my right eye and then, bam! lights out as I double over in agony. I blindly
groped for a towel and scrubbed until the slimy, scalding substance was out and
the pain subsided. The same thing happens with Dove Soap. Make one little
mistake and, bam! seaming pain.

So, why,
I ask can’t the highly paid and highly respected researchers and developers at
these companies find a painless solution? I think they don’t want to. In fact,
I think it’s a well-kept industry secret that a small, but select, cabal of
white-coated lab technicians gather annually at the Annual White-Coated Lab
Technicians Trade Show and Convention and secretly plot to keep creating soap
and shampoo that makes us cry out in pain. I imagine a conversation like this:

Sinkowitz,
Colgate-Palmolive
: ‘Hey, before the magician and kegs of beer arrive, can we
just discuss the ‘soap issue’?

Dalrymple,
P&G
: ‘If you like, but we’re good to go on my end.’

Angleterra,
Unilever
: ‘Ditto. We have no intention of making either soap or shampoo that
won’t continue to fry retinas and sear corneas.’

Sinkowitz:
 ‘Do I hear  a motion?’

Dalrymple:
‘I move that we once again refuse to research safer, gentler versions of soap
and shampoo.’

Angleterre:
‘I second.’

Sinkowitz:
‘All in favor?’

All:
‘Aye.’

Sinkowitz:
‘Opposed?’

Sinkowitz

:
‘The motion is carried. Now, how about discussing eye drops? Let’s really hit
them where it hurts.’

9 thoughts on “Talk about pain-based selling

  1. Thanks Clayton. And, thanks for reading RepMan. You made my day. I look forward to working on the script with you.

  2. Sorry to hear you had this experience with Pantene. I work for Pantene and also use this shampoo and can only imagine your frustration. What you described is unusual since our products are thoroughly evaluated to be safe when used as directed. I know our consumer care line would like to hear more about your experience. When you have a minute, I hope you’ll call us at 1-866-606-4682. Thanks, Dee.

  3. What’s all the fuss? Pain builds character. Steve, you’ve nailed it once again. With the lipstick index in high gear, people need to feel good about themselves, particularly in tough times. The packaged goods companies should go for the “smell like a baby” approach. At least it is pain-free. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for the J&J recommendations, but our procurement department (i.e. my wife) handles all purchasing and decides on brands.

  5. I’m with Mike D. Try Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. It does the job just fine for us grown-ups, it won’t hurt your eyes and it might even bring you a fond memory or two.

  6. Great points, Michael. There ought to be a law. Aside from sadism, what’s the motivation for inflicting pain on unsuspecting consumers? Cost-cutting?

  7. From someone who once worked at one of these big packaged good companies – I can tell you that the majority of baby shampoo purchases – you know, the stuff that says “no more tears” on the label – are not even used for babies. Adults love the fragrance and the pain-free benefit. And even though, ounce per ounce, baby shampoo is way more expensive than its sibling product in adult hair care, people with sensitive eyes buy the stuff in droves. Now that is salt in the wound. Because if middle managers in these big corporations were unafraid to cannibalize their baby shampoo sales, they would launch an adult shampoo “that smells and feels just like baby shampoo. So it’s a little more expensive? You’re worth it.”