The Multipack Paradox

MultipackJanuary 22, 1998, was to me one of the funniest moments in television history, when on the “Rosie O’Donnell Show”, Rosie announced her most recent product discovery. She was so excited by this “life altering” and “life changing”, thrilling new product, she confessed to screaming in the grocery store when she noticed it. During her monologue, she lifted the dome with a drumroll playing in the background to reveal… a box of Tampax. “Not just Tampax”, she said, “This ladies and gentlemen, is the Tampax MULTIPACK! … I can’t tell you how many days you think to yourself, if only I had an ‘Original Regular’, but I only have a ‘Super Plus’.” She explained that she didn’t want to use a ‘Super Plus’ if she didn’t have to, especially when an “Original Regular’ will do. But what if you don’t have one? The Tampax Multipack was her dream come true solution offering different sizes for different flow days.

Multipacks, variety packs and sampler packs, how ever you choose to refer to them, can indeed be a life-changing solution to a problem. However, last week I was cleaning out a drawer at the office, realizing I was going through several boxes of the “Stash Green Tea Sampler” and along the way, I was accumulating a stash of tea packets in one flavour that did not appeal to me all that much.

In the tea sampler we have: chai green, mojito mint, moroccan mint, premium green, decaf premium green and pomegranate raspberry. In the natural course of things, the two mints will get sipped up first, followed by the chai, then the regular and decaf green tea. Unfortunately the pomegranate raspberry one to me is like the “apricot” crayon in the box, or the miniature one inch bandage in the assorted sizes box. It is the item in the multipack that gets used last, if at all. If they had feelings I bet it would be like the last kid picked for dodgeball (oops!… I guess that wound still hasn’t fully healed, but I digress…).

I have not yet figured out what to do with the apricot-coloured crayon in the box, but frankly, I do not foresee many Crayola days in my future, so I rarely lose sleep over that one. The leftover miniature adhesive bandage issue I managed to mitigate when my Mom once said she wished she had more of those – I guess she has more dainty scrapes – so I give her mine.

As a child, I remember bugging Mom for the multipacks of breakfast cereals, which I remember yielded a leftover flavour there as well. Sometimes Dad ate it, sometimes he did not, but I remember seeing a few of those single serving boxes collecting dust, not to mention humidity, in a corner of the pantry. It was enough to wipe the relentlessly cheerful perma-smile off the face of a cereal commercial cartoon mascot.

But sometimes the stars line up and it all works out. In one of my work teams, goodies were often placed on top of a centrally-located filing cabinet, in plain view, for all to enjoy as they passed by. Once, a container of jujubes was placed on the cabinet. I remember the serendipitous feeling when one co-worker said she only ate the red ones and black ones, while my personal preference leaned toward the green, yellow and orange ones. Could there be a more perfect match? No team-building exercises were required here! Never would a jujube go stale on this team! It was sign, it was meant to be… I stayed with the team for 5 years.

I sometimes wonder how companies decide which and how many units to include within a multipack. In the case of the cereal and the tea, was it a way for companies to unload less popular flavours or are they all genuinely top sellers and it is just me who has unusual tastes?

In the case of Tampax, which ones they include is pretty self-explanatory, but in terms of how many, the box says that they include 16 supers, 16 regulars and 8 lites. Let’s just say I assume that there was great thought that went into the 16:16:8 ratio and leave it at that!

From a marketing perspective, I think variety packs, multipacks and sample packs are brilliant, convenient and definitely serve a purpose in offering us options, whether from a practical perspective or in expanding our horizons to new possibilities. The reality is that we are all human and that sometimes the products they contain do not necessarily please all palates.

If you are ever in the situation of having leftover teas, cereals or jujubes and don’t know what to do with them, rather than stew about them (not a good stew either, I might add) try thinking about the topic as a conversation ice-breaker when chatting with friends, family and co-workers. Not only might you find a happy home for your products, you never know what other treasures you might find from the wonderful world of multipacks that might make you shriek with delight like Rosie!

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,

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