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selling a product in context//times when natural is not-so-good

While I was living in California, I loved to shop at Trader Joe's. It was the most economical options for a lot of the groceries I buy on a weekly/bi-weekly basis (I know its hard to believe, but they really are one of the cheaper options in Orange County.) I still shop at 'TJ's' now that I'm home, and a couple months ago I picked up some items I wouldn't normally buy there: namely, toothpaste and dish soap. Both products were labeled natural, and I assumed that the Trader Joe's brand was a good enough indicator of quality.

Fast forward about two months into the spring quarter of school, and the dish soap is pretty much empty. For a replacement, I picked up some dawn from the grocery down the street. Here's the revelation: our dishes were so much cleaner with the dawn. I swear this is not an advertisement, it's just the truth. The bummer is that once we used the dawn, it was really clear that we had been eating off of somewhat dirty dishes for awhile. Oops.

The toothpaste lasted a little longer, and I didn't think much about it until I got to the dentist's office. When they told me I had some coffee stains, I asked about the natural toothpaste. My dentist actually told me that she notices that when her husband uses Tom's he has more tartar buildup. Yikes. It sounds simple, but I never thought about the fact that one toothpaste could outperform another by that much.

So the question becomes: when is natural the best option, and when would you be better off with some of those chemicals and more processed products?
The other side of the story is that when I asked if there was any way to avoid coffee stains on your teeth, the technician said not really, except that I could use Crest 3D whitening toothpaste. Wooooa product placement! Maybe its because I have been working on some design research lately, but what a strong sales pitch: the dental technician saying there there is nothing you can do to avoid stains except use this specific toothpaste. I should say, too, that the toothbrushes my dentist gives away are all Crest. Coincidence? Probably not.


  1. i hate most "natural" peanut butter. give me the processed goods, please!!

  2. you gotta try trader joe's all natural crunchy with salt. it will change your life! thanks for the comment, and more importantly thanks for reading :)


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