Yesterday I got my teeth cleaned. As the dental hygienist was poking around in my mouth, I recalled the “bright idea/sell more toothpaste” legend. This trope has been around for years and goes something like this:

A man approaches a major toothpaste manufacturer and says he has an innovation which would cost little to implement but would immediately sell 40% more toothpaste. He asks for $100,000.

The company thanks the guy and says they’ll get back to him. Then they form an internal taskforce to figure out how to increase sales without spending $100,000. Two weeks later they don’t have any ideas, so they call the man back and make a deal. He hands them a slip of paper with the words: “Make the hole bigger.”

This tale is often praised by marketers as an ingenious example of creative thinking. However, is getting consumers to use more of a product than they actually need praiseworthy? Toothpaste tubes are made of plastic and the chemicals in many brands can have a negative impact on the environment. Can a case be made for reducing consumption?

What is your opinion? Marketing success story? Environmental disaster? In between? Leave a comment.

Image by martaposemuckel from Pixabay

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