Friday, February 4, 2011

Shrinkage or Blimpage

In the borrowed cadence of a Longfellow poem, “Our consumables are shrinking, our consumables are shrinking!” To arms, to arms... The world of packaged goods wages a war on our pea-sized consumer brains on a regular basis. Packages shrink, or come in gigantic quantities or mini or fun sizes... Sheesh! and the hope is that we are not paying attention. Most of the time we don’t notice that a sauce that used to be in an 8 oz can is now 6 ounces. Instead of getting a half gallon of ice cream, a slightly smaller version appears for the same price as the larger one. I guess companies don’t want to raise their prices too much as their costs increase or maybe they really just want to make more profits off of less product. Companies have to make money, I don’t fault them for it, I just wish we could know when the packages change size. Some products come in different sizes depending on where you shop. You can get the MEGA cereals at the big giant stores and the dinky-sized things at convenience stores and have them cost about the same price... A “FanceeShmanzie” grocery store opened nearby and my food bills went through the roof. Oh, they play relaxing music, have clean floors, and take the stuff out of your cart, etc. and they are the closest store to my house, but they never offer to take the precious goodies out to the car for you unless you are at least an octogenarian... I digress. We pay a premium for convenience and still don’t necessarily get the level of service one would expect.

The sneaky aspect of the size changes drives me crazy. The stores try to help by labeling the price per unit so you can really compare the costs, but the print is so small you often have to look hard to find this and if you - um don’t bring your glasses to the store you are SOL. It all happens in such a subtle way that we hardly notice, and I don’t hear any organized marches or consumer advocate groups complaining. It just happens and we, the sheep of the United States and other places too (we don’t have the market on stupid completely cornered), continue to plod along like domestic zombies up and down the aisles, throwing things into the cart.

The toilet paper market really chaps my behind ( :-) ). Seriously, you can buy a gazillion tiny rolls that vanish into thin air in about five seconds or a six pack of ginormous rolls for the same price that don’t fit on a standard holder (whose stroke of brilliance was that??~!) Companies constantly repackage stuff, I mean really, it’s hard to make tp very exciting so they just make it confusing... If you buy a mop and don’t buy a ton of replacement mopheads, when you go to buy a mophead they will all be redesigned and won’t fit your existing mop and you will have to buy a new mop.
As much as it drives me crazy, this process employs people and keeps the mop business from going down the drain... okay that was bad.

Anyway, my most recent madness was when I saw some yummy Haagen Daas on sale and went to toss a few pints into the cart... and they weren’t pints. Here are some ideas for selling this new “Not quite a pint.” “Now fewer calories!!” “Less fat!”” “Reduced sugar!“ “Go ahead eat the whole thing, you won’t even feel it!!” “Now, easier to carry!”

If you have any examples of this in your world, I’d love to hear about them.

1 comment:

  1. (Actually this Russ - see PS note below)
    Not sure if this is on subject or not...

    NBC has recently been doing an ongoing series about the science of grocery shopping that is very interesting.
    It's all about how presentation and positioning of products matters and how companies have learned how consumers are likely to react to certain stimuli.
    I don't recall all I learned but here are a few snippets.

    Milk is always located all the way in the back corner of any store because most people have it on their list when they buy groceries and the store manager wants you to have to pass by every other product they have before reaching it.
    Delis and bakeries and flower centers are located near front entrances in order to cause consumer's senses to start working. They want you to feel hungry for obvious reasons.
    Getting shoppers to impulse buy is an objective. For instance, items children might lobby parents to purchase are placed at eye level on shelves for children's vision to pick up either as they walk by or when they are located in the seat of the cart.
    There were a whole slew of other things I have forgotten.


    ***PS*** (sorry about the "Schaum" thing - I couldn't use any of the other avenues to post a comment so this is one that works...we moved here from Schaumburg, Illinois...I went by "Schaum" then on sports message boards...not sure how this got connected to that? Anyway, now you know...)