4 Out of 5 Dentists Surveyed Recommend Trident…Now Wait a Second! Marketing Messages and Their Meanings

4 Out of 5 Dentists Surveyed Recommend Trident…Now Wait a Second! Marketing Messages and Their Meanings

It was a catch-phrase advertisement I heard thousand of times while growing up in America. It was an advertising and marketing slogan for Trident Gum:

“4 out of 5 dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum to their patients who chew gum.”

It sounded great! Dentists, those great people who have the health of our mouths as their chief concern, actually recommend the stuff! They want us to chew Trident. I was sold and I’m sure millions of other consumers were as well. Trident became the most popular brand of gum.

But let’s take a closer look at the slogan:

“4 out of 5 dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum to their patients who chew gum.”

And here, let the questions begin:

Were the dentists actually recommending Trident or any sugarless gum?

Did they get any perks for replying to the survey? After all, how many busy dentists have the time to respond to things like this? Were they offered a discount coupon for their next purchase of Trident?

How many dentists were surveyed? It could have been only five!

Did Trident hand-pick the dentists?

Were dentists who chewed Trident themselves more apt to reply, thus skewing the results?

Were the dentists on the staff of the company, Warner-Lambert, which produced Trident?

Were they shareholders in the company that produced Trident?

Did the 4 out of 5 who recommended that their patients who chew gum choose Trident actually recommend that patients not chew gum at all?

Who knows? Question Mark clip art And who bothered to find out? But the answer has business implications!

The Lesson:

“Dentists” and “Recommend” are words that have the sound of authority. It’s like when you hear a company say “Statistics show…” What statistics? Or “Our customers report that…” Which customers? Only the satisfied ones? But it sounds great! People tend not to doubt claims like this. They tend to believe and they tend to buy. How many actually questioned the company for a clarification of the survey results? Probably not more than a handful!

Whether a consumer or marketer, it is important to remember that numbers and facts can be “played with.” As a consumer it is necessary to check for accuracy. An advertiser might say, “I have succeeded in bringing 10 products to market.” So, how many failed. Was it you or your company that succeeded? What is your criteria for measuring success? The products came to market, but did they fail in market?

And as professionals who sell and market products, it is important to present accuracy in order to maintain credibility! “Fudge” numbers and statistics and when clients find out the damage may have already been done! Being up front and honest is the key! A related issue is testimonials. Someone may present 5 glowing testimonials. But are they representative. Are there 15 other former clients who were dissatisfied or mad as hell and would never recommend the service? It is human nature: people tend to tell others what they think they want to hear. And the people on the other end tend to hear what they want to hear. It can turn the unreal into the highly believable!

By the way, if you are interested in writing services, my husband Yoni is a GREAT writer.

A cup of coffee Vector

 “7 out of 8 coffee-drinkers recommend him!”


Picture of dentist courtesy of toonpool.com; highly recommended courtesy of lovethatkimchi; coffee courtesy of all-free-download.com

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