Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Label Conscious: Recommendations

Every commercial or magazine ad that is aimed toward mothers or women comes with some sort of recommendation. Products made with babies and children in mind come with a pediatrician recommendation. Products about teeth come with dentist approvals. Even all of the cell phone companies all claim to be the fastest 4G network with the most coverage. How can that even be possible?

Don't Read Between The Lines

All Free and Clear comes with a label that says dermatologist recommended. This doesn't say which dermatologist recommends it. Is it a staff dermatologist? It also doesn't say what about the detergent is recommended? Is it the lack of dyes and perfumes that is recommended? There are dozens of detergents like that. Is it the brand itself? There are no specifics. Don't create them.

Tested And Approved

Durex condoms are tested for quality according to the packaging. What are the perimeters? What were the results. What standards of quality are in use? Tested does not mean approved. Even approvals are vague. The "meat" at Taco Bell is FDA approved. Knowing that the FDA Standard is 40% meat is enough to call a product "meat" you may think twice about the weight you give the FDA approvals.


What constitutes a recommendation? My pediatrician has a free sample basket. In it are a variety of lotions and baby washes. My pediatrician knows the parents of his patients love samples. When the sample vendors come in he lets them leave their samples. A week later he is simply asked if he would recommend that his patients take the samples. The answer is, "yes." He has never tried it or tested the products but would recommend parents who want the samples take the samples. Is this a recommendation?

Numbers Game

4 out of 5 dentists recommend Crest. 4 out of 5 also recommend Colgate. So which one is better? These statistics don't bring you any closer to figuring that out. There are a couple of ways to decipher this data. One way is to know only 5 dentists were interviewed by each company. Another is to refer to the "sample example" I gave above. A third way is to consider the loser. 4 out of 5 dentists chose Crest, over what? Read the fine print and you may find an uneven match-up that includes words like, "versus non-fluoride toothpaste". Well, duh. The real question is who was the 5th dentist that disagreed?

Don't buy a product based on claims from the company. Read the labels and do your product review research.

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