Saturday, September 5, 2015

Dramatic tales from the basket of sales.

Sometimes in the supermarket you see those baskets of items at discount prices, and you wonder what led these apparently normal products off the shelves and into a pile. After all, if they were expected to sell, they'd probably still be on the shelf. I find that at my local Target, that usually means they are seasonal products past their season (Target is big on the pine-smelling soap at Christmas and cotton-candy air fresheners in summer, for example) or are close to or actually past their expiration date. In other stores it may mean the same thing. Or it may mean... something else.


Hello yourself! Looks like a premium brand of toothpaste, albeit with the unusual flavor of "Supermint" (which turned out to be pretty much peppermint, albeit tasty peppermint). It's made by a company called Hello Products of Montclair, New Jersey. What brought this friendly item to the bargain bin?

Procter & Gamble did. The toothpaste (and all other personal care products) titan, owners of Crest, sued, claiming that Hello's 99% Natural claim was false. Hello, seeing itself on the losing end regardless of the validity of P&G's claims, agreed to stop the 99% Natural claim, and gave away about 100,000 tubes so labeled, free of charge. The founder of Hello thanked P&G for "accelerating and amplifying our marketing efforts."

Maybe the store where I got this wasn't supposed to sell it, but return it to the company. I got it for cheap, anyway, but not for free.

You notice that another Hello product, one I did not find in the bargain bin, no longer says "99% Natural":


"Naturally Friendly" is much less of an actionable phrase, isn't it?

There's always a story. Just as every empty storefront has a tale of a broken heart, every bargain-bin dump has a tale of battle and drama. Much as I like Crest, I think P&G was trying to use the courts to smash a potential competitor before it got off the blocks, and just seized on whatever would work.

Hang in there, Hello! You may not really be 99% Natural, but you have very friendly products to look at first thing in the morning! And who doesn't like that?
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