Why Does Listerine Taste So Bad?

Have you ever wondered why Listerine taste so bad? Is there a reason behind the unpleasant taste? I mean, since they have developed so many flavors, why can’t they just make the product taste better?

Well, Listerine doesn’t taste good because… the company doesn’t want it to taste good. Listerine’s awful taste is a great part of the product’s marketing strategy. It’s intentionally made that way so it gives you the impression that it kills more germs than their competitor’s products do.

Here’s the story. (the article continues after the ad)

Since its invention in the late 19th century, Listerine has been the leader on the US mouthwash industry. In fact, for almost half a century, Listerine was not facing any serious competition and was dominating the market. Up until 1966 when Procter & Gamble decided to enter the game.

Based on the fact that Listerine… taste bad, Procter & Gamble developed a mouthwash that killed germs just as good as Listerine but it also had better taste. The name of the product: Scope. 

Scope took plenty of market share and gave Listerine a great dilemma: change the taste of the product to compete with the better-tasting alternative or stick to original taste? The guys at Listerine went on with the latter. 

To differentiate themselves from the competition, the brilliant marketers at Listerine not only did they not change the recipe, they instead focused all their marketing campaigns to the bad taste. The slogan was simple: “If it taste that bad, it has to kill a lot of germs”. The fact that it makes your mouth taste like a chemistry lab, was emphasized as “Medicine Breath”. They were basically turning their weakness into opportunity. It was a brilliant move that kept Scope into the number two brand and further established Listerine’s position as the best, “medicine” product.


Today, even though a lot of flavors have been developed and new alcohol-free alternative methods of production have arisen, Listerine remains loyal to its “medicine breath” as it is still, its best selling point.

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: What’s The Connection Between Bluetooth And A… Blue Tooth?

Main Article Photo: Listerine
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie

Sources: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Ries, Al, Trout, Jack

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