Those of you who know me in real life know how much I love deodorant. Okay, okay, I don’t have some weird obsession with anti-perspirants; I’m just fascinated by the names. First of all, they’re completely ridiculous. What do “summer nights” and “playa” smell like exactly? Second, the names are incredibly gendered, or at least the packaging would suggest as much. Take a stroll through CVS’s deo aisle and you’ll see a selection of small pastel containers bearing names like “warm rain,” “summer stroll,” and “allure.” Across the aisle will be larger, squarer containers in black, forest green, and fiery red: “swagger,” “phoenix,” “steel,” “pulse,” and “manliest man who ever manned.” (I may have made that last one up, but I’m sure you’ll agree that it fits right in.) Apparently “convict,” “recovery,” and “instinct” are other branded scents.
On a recent shopping excursion, I discovered that “romance” smells disgusting to me and “escape” is great. Hold on while I go ponder my life…
This week I discovered a new favorite soap: “falling rain.” Let’s be clear now–this does not evoke the rain rushing through the cracks in your driveway. It’s not the muddied water pooling in the sandbox and obscuring the toy truck than Janine left behind at recess. It’s falling. Interestingly enough, this soap smells suspiciously like peppermint. Who has peppermint rain? Please come forward.
So what’s the deal with deodorant marketing? In case you hadn’t noticed, deodorants (and soaps, shampoos, and other toiletries) marketed toward women cost more. Not only that, they come in smaller packages, so they’re ultimately much more expensive. This problem is exacerbated by the number of individual products that are marketed to women, where combo products (all-in-one shampoo/conditioner/body wash) are advertised for men. Women are paid less (hello, people, the pay gap is still alive and well!) and conditioned to pay more for our products.
So what is it we’re paying for? What makes the difference? Turquoise packaging and cosmetics industry employees who sit in far away offices devising names like falling rain.