On a recent trip to my local Whole Foods Market, I noticed a very strange, prominent display in front of the checkout lanes. A mountain of 365 brand organic maple syrup and cayenne pepper bottles can only mean one thing for those familiar with detox: the Master Cleanse.
Why, oh, why is Whole Foods—a trusted natural retailer—promoting this insane detox fad, which has time and again proven to be ineffective and often dangerous?
Detox has been on my mind, following last week's focus on the topic on NewHope360 (did you see "The ultimate detox guide" or "How to sell detox products in your natural store"?). But I'm pretty sure I would have noticed this detox display anyway. There were actually copies of The Master Cleanser by Stanley Burroughs propped next to those huge maple syrup jugs.
The 10-day juice fast involves drinking water and herbal laxative tea, supplemented by six to 12 "lemonades" a day. This drink is the infamous lemon juice, organic maple syrup and cayenne pepper concoction that has often been the butt of detox jokes since the cleanse gained popularity in the '70s.
I would expect to see the Master Cleanse in Walmart. I would not expect to see it in Whole Foods.
The myth of the Master Cleanse
Recent Broncos mania in Colorado (where we're headquartered) forces me to use a sports analogy: The Master Cleanse is like the Tim Tebow of detox.
When it first burst onto the scene, people prayed that it would deliver detox salvation (or, in Tebow's case, at least a Super Bowl title). I imagine, too, that when on the Master Cleanse, people assume the same kneeling position as the famous quarterback—mostly because their bodies are so deprived of nutrition that they can't stand up. But unlike Tebow, the Master Cleanse has never thrown a touchdown pass to win the game at the last minute.
Why retailers shouldn't promote the Master Cleanse
The fact is, there's no evidence that the Master Cleanse actually cleanses one's body. In fact, as a result of a lack of protein, vitamins and minerals and significantly decreased caloric intake, people often get headaches and experience rebounding weight gain after the cleanse is over.
If you're Beyonce trying to drop weight fast for a movie, that's one thing. If you're a natural food shopper looking to your trusted natural retailer for a detox solution that's healthy…well, even Beyonce warned others to stay away from the cleanse after she finished shooting Dreamgirls.
As a natural retailer, there are so many detox products from reputable companies you could promote instead of a fad. You've worked hard to become a health and wellness center, and your customers trust you. Don't let them down by promoting things which may be harmful. If you need ideas for selling healthy detox products, Natural Foods Merchandiser has plenty.
Do you think Whole Foods should be promoting the Master Cleanse? Tell me in the comments.