How to Know What You’re Buying is What You’re Getting


Statistics are inherently trustworthy because numbers don’t lie, right? A lot of the time this is true. In scientific discovery and research for example, numbers are facts. Period. When it comes to marketing, however, statistics are more subjective and easily manipulated. For example, when you were told that four out of five dentists recommend Trident, you weren’t told how long the marketers ran that survey or how many dentists they talked to until they could use that statistic could be validated. They don’t tell you whether they were sampling for taste, long lasting flavor, or actual ability to help keep your mouth clean. See what we mean?

So how are you supposed to know which statistics you see in marketing campaigns have been “massaged” to get to the truth they’re supposed to represent? Unfortunately, this is not something that you can tell simply by checking out packaging. You’ll need to get a little bit more in depth. Here are some of the ways you can do that.

Try it Yourself

One of the best ways to make sure a product will do what the marketing insists it does is to try it out for yourself. Obviously individual mileage may vary but usually you can get a feel for how well something will work (or not) for you with a few uses. Before you start running the numbers in your head, we’re not suggesting you simply buy full-sized versions of the products that interest you. That would get incredibly expensive incredibly fast. No, it is much better to stick to samples while you’re researching. You can often get sample sized products from their manufacturers by simply requesting them.

If, however, you’re not set on one specific product, opting in to a sample subscription service is a budget and time saving option. For example, you can opt in for beauty product trials, baby product trials, cosmetic trials, etc.

Research the Company

Instead of focusing on the actual products you’re thinking of using, take some time to research the company that makes them. Go beyond the product’s website. Believe it or not, many of the companies we credit with making the food and products we love are just small subsidiaries of larger corporations. Dig deep here. Try to find the parent company and learn as much as you can about them as well as the subsidiary itself. Check out their ratings with the Better Business Bureau, check for class action lawsuits, complaints with the FCC or FDA, safety reports, etc.


This is particularly important when you’re researching a manufacturer who makes food. Always err on the side of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” when wondering whether or not proper safety procedures are followed. Assume corners are cut unless the official reports–not the marketing reports but their health inspections, OSHA reports, etc–prove otherwise.

Ask Real Users

Chances are, someone in your social circle has tried or has experience with the product you’re investigating. Ask them about their personal experience with it. You can expand this search to the web as well. Ask for reviews via social media and pay attention to the responses. You can also use publications like Consumer Reports which survey actual people and do scientifically based research and surveying to rate and review products.

Ultimately unless you grow/raise the food yourself and then use it to also make the products you use, you’ll have to do a little research to find out whether a product really is as amazing as the marketing says it is. Use the tips we’ve included here to do just that!

Photo by Heidi Sandstrom.

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About the Author

Henrietta Newman is a tech loving, video game playing, backyard chicken raising, dirt road living, pr friendly mom/gramma blogger who talks about life with a teen daughter, an adult son, a toddler granddaughter, a construction worker soulmate and all that it entails. Subscribe to A Hen's Nest for giveaways, delicious family recipes, reviews and more!

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