When Pepsodent (toothpaste) came onto the scene in the 1920's, toothpaste was already everywhere. Pepsodent promised fresh breath, but so did Listerine.
Pepsodent promised whiter teeth, but so did Crest. So how did Pepsodent come on to the cavity-dominated landscape of the roaring twenties and quickly gain the #1 market share? They made toothpaste irritating.
Toothpaste existed in the early 1900's but not many people used it. Many probably knew that it could make their teeth cleaner, but this just wasn't an incentive enough to buy. After all, applying sunscreen to your face every morning can greatly reduce your chance of skin cancer, but who actually does that?
What Pepsodent did that its' competitors did not is they added an irritant to their formula that made toothpaste somewhat irritating to people's gums. Now when people brushed their teeth with Pepsodent, they could actually feel like they were getting cleaner.
The funny thing is that the irritant had no short-term or long-term hygienic benefit; rather, it created a habitual need for people to begin brushing their teeth because they could physically feel a difference. Have you ever noticed how children's toothpastes does not do this? This is because kids do not enjoy that tingle.
The tingling sensation Pepsodent created actually made the product more addicting. Why do you think shampoo bubbles-up when you use it in your hair? Again, there is no relation between bubbles and getting your hair cleaner save the likelihood that you will wash your hair more frequently because of it.
Marketers insisted Pepsodent and companies like them create a physical reward that adds to the perceptual belief that people truly are getting cleaner.
So, does your product give people a Pavlovian benefit?
Don't compete — DOMINATE.
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