Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why I miss my tube of Colgate toothpaste

Last week when my wife went grocery shopping she had toothpaste on her list. Doing her part to watch the monthly budget she noticed that Crest was on sale. It’s worth noting that we have been loyal Colgate users for as long as I can remember. I suspect that price was the initial catalyst for her even considering the switch. The only immediately identifiable difference was the "plus Scope", since our usual Colgate Total also has 'whitening powers'. So I suspect that ‘feature’ helped convince her that now was the time to try something new.

After only my second brushing I knew I wasn't going to be happy. Not because of the minty flavour or how clean my teeth felt, but because of a simple usability issue. You see with the tube of Crest you have to twist the cap off, squeeze out your toothpaste, then twist it back on. Where as the Colgate tube requires no time consuming twisting, the end of the cap easily flicks open and simply snaps back down. I realize this may only save a few seconds in the grand scheme of things, but it has other repercussions.

After less than a week of use my wife started to leave the cap off. She isn’t lazy, it’s just that the other cap was so much easier to use. I can’t really blame her. Unfortunately leaving the cap off is not a suitable solution, especially with two little ones running around. So I did what any red-bloode previously satisfied consumer would do, I rummaged through the garbage can to see if I could find the old empty and discarded Colgate tube. Sure enough, there it was all crumpled up with every last ounce of toothpaste squeezed out of it’s precious little cap. I took the cap off and tried to see if I could get it to fit on the Crest tube, but no such luck. The treading was different.

Sorry Procter & Gamble I want my Colgate Total back. I'm positive the Colgate-Palmolive engineers made a conscious decision to use the more user-friendly cap. So I will reward them with all my future toothpaste purchases, even if it costs a few cents more.

Now if only they could get rid of the excessive packaging. Then I’d be really happy.

Do you have any other examples of usability affecting your purchasing decisions?