Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Close Shave

Shaving is such a pain (metaphorically and literally).
I ran out of blades on my Quattro, and decided to use a Mach3 I had lying around.

I was surprised to find that the Mach3 is hugely better than the Quattro. Its less irritating, it shaves closer, and it seems to last for longer per disposable blade.

("The point?", you may be forgiven for asking...)

Well. What about the numbers?
We put so much faith in numbers, we presume that four blades must be better than three without ever finding out. Because a number is a fact, we assume that it carries more weight than a belief or claim like "closer shaving blades". Even though one makes a lot of difference and one could mean very little, we still presume the number to be all important.

It used to happen with computers, because a processor was 64bit, everyone automatically assumes it is better. But that number doesnt tell you what speed it runs at, it doesnt tell you what supporting processors are there, or the efficiency of the computer. There is no proof that 64 means better than 32, but we just take it to be so. Everyone does it at some point, even cynical and suspicious consumers will at some point take a number and give it too much weight.

It starts to explain why the razor companies are putting so much effort into adding new numbers of blades, it won me over when I could have four instead of two or three. It adds a perceived advantage in the eyes of the consumer, even without there being any actual difference.

Though it also shows the importance for these companies of getting their product into homes; the only reason I tried the Mach3 was because I was sent a free test one in the post! But by spending money and disproving the numbers game, they've got a new customer... shame they both have crap ads though!

I've definitely been won over to the Mach3 side now, but in doing so; I think I may just have to start questioning numbers a bit more.

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