categorical traps

I was in Home Depot today picking up a few things, when the garden gloves caught my eye.  I longed for a pair, but then did a double take on a few things.  I can't help but roll my eyes at anything that markets something for women as "for her," let alone that does so in a script font on a swirly pink background; alas, this brand used that angle.  On top of that, they categorized landscaping gloves by task: stone & masonryplantingdigging, etc.  There were about eight or so of these categories.  Having gloves for different tasks might be reasonable if they were actually any different, but as far as I could tell, they were only two designs made of smooth goat-skin leather on the palms and fingers, and then leather or a breathable floral fabric on the back.  I'm not a fan of breathable fabric gloves for gardening because they let tiny dust particles in.  I ended up treating myself to a pair of the all-leather ones (stone & masonry) because leather lasts longer than fabric and I liked the uniformity and color.

The stone & masonry gloves weren't selling as well as the others, most likely because fewer people do stone and masonry landscaping themselves than people who do their own gardening.  Aside from selling the categories unevenly, the this kind of fake categorization seems silly.  I imagine they're trying to create niches to increase sales, but I doubt that it works particularly well.  Maybe they're just trying to understand their consumers better--I don't know.  At Joann's, they label fabric craft, quilting, decor, and fashion, or at least something along those lines.  On some level it's helpful, but on another, it's arbitrary.  I'd rather just know what it's made of and how to wash it.  Why not just let the consumer decide an item's use?  I've used decor fabric for fashion and vice versa.

Towels are another good example: you have bath towels, beach towels, kitchen towels, and cleaning towels, even though they're all essentially the same thing.  Maybe some have different patterns, colors, or sizes, but those distinctions were developed so we would buy some of each.

I prefer labeling to categorization, it's more intuitive and expansive.  Labeling a cotton fabric cotton, machine-washablegood for quilting, and good for crafts (preferably with easy-to read and maybe even color-coded labels) is much more helpful than just sticking it in a quilting section.  Similarly, gloves could have all of their uses labeled instead of producing five of the same glove with mild differences and labeling each with a unique use.

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