What Matters Most is Protecting Your Customer
It started with such a simple and noble objective—protecting children from lead and other toxins.
Remember the millions of Barbie Dolls recalled in the summer of 2007 for too much lead in the paint? That was the catalyst for the Federal law we all know of as CPSIA. But what we ended up with is anything but simple. Even CPSIA experts have a hard time agreeing about what is or isn't a children's product under Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) guidelines.
At PPAI's recent Product Safety Summit in Denver, I projected images of several products and asked attendees to raise their hand if they thought the product was a children's product. The first image was a simple water bottle for a first grade Little League team. The imprint said "Meadowbrook Little League" in bold Helvetica type. The second image was the same bottle with an imprint of Dora the Explorer. One is considered a general use product, one is a children's product. Same bottle, same lead content, different imprint. Both are going to be used by the same 6 year old kids. One requires testing and must comply with CPSIA requirements. One doesn't.
These examples go on and on. They make you scratch your head and wonder what happened to that simple noble objective. At the Summit, our featured speaker was Mary Toro, head of regulatory enforcement at CPSC. Even Mary wasn't sure whether some of the products we showed would be considered children's products. It's complicated even for the experts.
How did this happen? Another noble objective gone awry. In trying to please the varied constituencies, CPSC came up with a compromise: If a product appeals mostly to young children, it's a children's product. If the same product appeals equally to everyone, it's a general use product. Helvetica lettering apparently appeals to everyone, Dora doesn't.