Recently I sat through a lecture that talked about consumer products. Essentially the message was, 

All products are pretty much the same thing, its the branding we use to differentiate them.

To me statements like these are what create a divide between consumers, marketers, and businesses.  The exact example  was about Shampoos. With an image of a CVS shampoo aisle, the lecturer quipped that really all of these products are 90% the same. The other 10% are minor adjustments that do not constitute a significant enough impact. Consumers really were just wasting their time and money on all these different products. 

Let's Hold it Right There 

Now this is where I'd have to disagree. Though it may be true that these Shampoos have the same make up of all the other brands, it does NOT mean that they are the same thing. Some people need special shampoos to cure dandruff, some like a certain scent, and some are formulated especially for kids so that they don't burn their eyes. Many of us have used enough of these shampoos to know that there really is a difference. It's not just a placebo effect. I'm really not a shampoo expert though so excuse me while I switch the example.

Let's take restaurants, specifically Mexican Restaurants.

We all have our favorite spots to eat. We have our spots that we immediately go to after a long day and the mere thought of this place launches a tidal wave of cravings. For me, there is a place called El Patio that makes THE BEST Carne Asada Nachos that you'll find in Orange County. 

Jason Khoo - Carne Asada Nachos

Carne Asada Nachos are not a novelty item and you can pretty much find them anywhere. If you live where I live, you can find three other stores within a block that serve the same dish. Think about the relationship between these different restaurants. They all use chips, they all use carne asada, pico de gallo, some sort of beans, etc. Every restaurant will add a little variation in accordance with their recipe, but just like shampoo 90% of Carne Asada Nachos are going to be the same. However, if you told me we were going to get Carne Asada Nachos from some place other than El Patio my response would be ".......really? We might as well not get it."

Okay, okay, I may sound a little haughty, but hear me out. 

Burgers at Mcdonalds, Carl's Jr, Smash Burger, Fat Burger, The Counter, Umami Burger are 90% the same. They have bread, meat and bread. Yet I am 100% sure that most of you wouldn't deem a McDonald's burger the same as Carl's Jr or Umami Burger. If you don't believe me, go take your best friend/significant other to a McDonald's for their birthday. See what happens. Or better yet, tell them your going to get steak and take them to a Carl's Jr. [If you decide to take me up on this challenge, PLEASE let me know how it goes]

Jason Khoo - Chimpanzees vs Humans

One last example to drive this debate home.

Humans and Chimpanzee's according to the 2005 special issue of Nature share 96% genetic similarity. Yeup. Some studies even suggest 99%. You know where I am going with this.  I'm sure we can agree that Humans and Chimpanzees are not the EXACT same being. 

So there! Point made. 

This conversation is really about context. Data is great but we must do our part to interpret it properly. The relationship between corporations and consumers has always been strained because of the false reports and interpretations on both sides. I just want to do my part in clearing up this misconception and breathe confidence back into consumers who choose a different shampoo. So go ahead, choose that bottle of Shampoo specifically made for the problem you may have, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!.