I Just Needed Toothpaste

August 2nd, 2010

Typical weekend errands. On my list was toothpaste. Simple right? Not so much! Usually I just grab my preferred brand and off I go. Paying little attention to the entire shelf. But on Saturday, it so happened that the toothpaste aisle in this particular store was very wide and as I turned the corner, I had a visual perspective that caused me to stop dead in my tracks. The number of choices, even among the same brand (Crest for example), was staggering.

At what point does choice cease to be compelling and become instead, a burden? Have we devalued real choice by making such a big deal out of small differences? Are we diluting brands with too many line extensions? These questions had me curious and interestingly enough while doing some research over the weekend, I found an excellent new video presentation on TED on this very subject. Definitely worth watching. It may give you a fresh perspective.


  1. David Soxman says:

    Very compelling article and a wonderful video presentation by Sheena. Have you read Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” where he explores this question of choice? In some cases he states that after being presented with many choices and doing a great deal of research, that our decision would have probably been better if we had gone with our “gut.”

  2. Kim Mickelsen says:

    Thanks David. I have read Blink, it’s one of my favorites, and I personally agree with Gladwell. I know I spent way too much time thinking about toothpaste. And it was just toothpaste.

  3. John Frigo says:

    Excellent insights on the implications of choice. It definitely makes you look at choice from a very different perspective and how ingrained it is in American culture