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Aquaphor Hates Babies, And Indisputable Proof That Target is a Den of Inequity

Aquaphor Hates Babies, And Indisputable Proof That Target is a Den of Inequity

Two posts on Target in one week? Listen: it’s been that kind of a week, people.

I was in Target on Wednesday, which in itself is not remarkable, but the fact that I was shopping for compressed air was admittedly a little bit unusual. We can argue about whether it’s intelligent to shop for air in a can later, because what this post is about is the fact that I noticed that Target has some weird shelving policies and price points that are pretty different based upon where things are placed within the store. For example, I first looked for compressed air in the electronics area, where they sold one brand of compressed air, Endust Duster, in 10oz cans, one for $4.99 or a packs of two for $8.99.

I didn’t want a two-pack of compressed air, and they were out of the single cans, so as I was walking through the store it occurred to me to check the office supply section. As it turns out, they stock compressed air there as well, but only 3M Brand Dust Remover, available only in single 10oz cans for $5.14 each.

So $0.15 is not a huge discrepancy in price or anything, and these are different brands and everything, but it still made me wonder about a few things. What’s the thought process here, do you think? People headed straight for the office supply section are using an expense account to pay for their compressed air and won’t be as worried about price? People in the electronics section are purchasing things for their home, and for their personal use, and so are more likely to be interested in a product made by a domestic products company like Endust, than in a product made by 3M, which will inevitably remind them of work? And how do the companies get in on this action? Did Endust outbid 3M, or is it the other way around? Who gets more money off this deal, I wonder?

So then I start wondering about other products that could potentially be in several different parts of the store. And naturally, I think of Aquaphor, because you can find it in the baby aisle, but also sometimes in the pharmacy. I have nothing else to do besides sleuth around Target on a Wednesday, so I start snooping around and find out that Aquaphor in the baby aisle costs $16.49 for a 14oz tub. It is also marked “BABY” on the side, presumably so that paranoid new parents know that it’s safe to rub all over their child’s skin.

But if you check the pharmacy section, Aquaphor is sold in 14oz tubs at a regular price of $15.79, and to add insult to injury they are on sale this week for $14.71! So the “BABY” on the side costs you $0.70 extra on a regular day, and during a sale it can cost you up to $1.98!

I suppose it’s not unusual for a company to repackage something and charge more for it, even when it’s the same thing. I suppose the idea is that we’re supposed to believe that Aquaphor BABY is somehow more gentle and specially formulated for babies. But the thing is, it’s not — it’s all just Vaseline. Which brings me to the next question — who is paying off all the pediatricians to tell parents to buy Aquaphor when it costs about five times more than Vaseline, and it’s the same thing? Why does the petroleum industry hate babies?

Comments (2)

  1. Jan 13, 2010

    After I read this, I noticed the exact same thing happening with the price of Kodak film. Yes, I am a dinosaur who has a film camera (inject rant often heard from filmophiles about better quality with less talent here). Back in the store with the cameras and video games, the price of a three pack of film was about 25 cents less than up in the store in the Photo Service area. Interesting. The packaging was exactly the same and I was charged the smaller price. But it strikes me as odd that the prices weren’t uniformly marked throughout the entire store.

  2. Jan 13, 2010

    That is really interesting. One of these days, I’m going to have to come up with a list of ideas for products that would be shelved multiple places and then go around and do a study. Because my guess is that it’s happening way more often than we realize.

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