Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Consumer Product Anorexia

Anorexia--it's not just for people any more. Consumer products are going on diets with a vengeance, and it's affecting the financial health of humans.

Once upon a time all bags of dried beans, lentils and barley were a standard 16 ounces. Buyer beware--some of those bags look the same size but read the package--some are down to a "size" 14.

Paper cups were all 100 juice-sized cups to a package. Same box size, only now there are 80 cups.

Once upon a time juice containers were all either 32 ounces or 64 ounces. Now we have the new 59 ounce container.

Coke introduced its new bottle with a whole ad campaign about how it was easier than ever to hold and to pour. It said it was doing consumers a favor. But those new bottles contain 1/2 liter less soda at the price that 2-liter bottles used to cost. So of course they had to make 2-liter bottles cost more.

Once upon a time all packaged salads were a standard 16 ounces. Buyer beware. Fresh Express salads, some with the star K, are now a standard 12 ounces (but the bag size is the same). Dole still makes the 16 ounce bags, also some with the star K. (Interesting note here: King Kullen markets don't sell the Dole salads, only the Fresh Express. When I asked why the produce manager was honest--because when they had both people compared the two and only bought the Dole. Ironically this same market keeps putting big yellow sale signs on the Fresh Express of 2 for $6.00 and they can't understand why the packages aren't grabbed off the shelves. Perhaps because down the block the Dole is $1.99 regular price for the plain lettuce mix?)

Once upon a time cream cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream came in standard 8 ounce or 16 ounce or 24 ounce or 32 ounce containers. Read the labels. That 8 ounce sized container may only have from 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 ounces in it. The 32 ounce container may now be a size 28 ounces.

Once upon a time canned vegetables were pretty much standard--8 ounce or 16 ounce. Read those labels and weep. The can size hasn't changed but the contents have.

Shampoos have changed their bottles lately, for a good reason. There is less in the bottles than before. Head and Shoulders shampoo ads all tout the beautiful new bottle. Hello, you don't wash your hair with a bottle.

Cereal boxes are another breeding ground for anorexia. The boxes remain the same but the contents are shrinking.

Go through a market and look really carefully at what is in those packages. Manufacturers are putting in less and less. The ironic part? Some manufacturers like to point with pride that they haven't raised prices and still keep their consumers in mind. Yeah, right. $3.00 for 8 ounces or $3.00 for 6 ounces, and they think we are going to buy into their not having raised their prices? Godiva chocolates are sold by the piece and are super expensive. It seems like food and household goods product manufacturers are also buying into the idea that smaller equals better. But better for whom? Certainly not for shoppers. Anorexia on their part equals more money spent on our part.


Anonymous said...

paper towels is another one. They reduce the number of sheets per roll. A multi-roll package of 15 rolls, for which you pay more, may only have the same number of sheets that are in half that number of rolls bought individually.

Anonymous said...

It's a constant game that manufacturers and stores play to catch the unaware consumer in their nets. They change the size or contents. Even a change of 1/2 an ounce will result in more profits for the manufacturers and more expense to the consumer. But they change the amounts and the prices charged from day to day, certainly from week to week. It is becoming impossible to actually put a price on a product so that you can budget expenses. The more cost conscious consumers try to become, the more manufacturers and stores work hard at making sure that won't happen. You have to be happy with any bargains that you do manage to find, and hope that they really are a bargain.

Like never before in the time I have lived does the buyer have to beware.

Lion of Zion said...

gefilte fish is also smaller (i was going to post on this). the royal brand tried to "empower" the consumer by giving us the chance to decide if we preferred a shorter role or a thinner role. who cares? less is less.

Anonymous said...

Everyone calls that bottle of Kedem grape juice a quart sized bottle but it's only 22 ounces. That makes it a 1/3 liter bottle almost. It's the only grape juice that gets sold in that odd size. I can't actually think of anything else that is sold in such an odd size.

Anonymous said...

The law in NY is that the shelves in the stores have to show the individual product price and then also the price per pound or quart so you can see what you are really paying for. But if they put up a sale sign they don't have to. Then you have to start calculating to be able to compare the different brands. After all the figuring I discovered the sale price on one item I was going to buy wasn't as cheap as the regular price of a different brand because there was a 2 oz. difference. Got to have a degree in finance just to grocery shop today.

Anonymous said...

The signs are great EXCEPT when the same product uses different measures for each brand or size. One sticker has ounce the other by quart and yet an other by each.

queeniesmom said...

The Edy's ice cream co. must also be anorexic; take a look at the new container. Same "sale" price, smaller container.

Coke gets full marks for excellent marketing this past weekend, "sale 2 liters for $3.00". Pepsi regular price $1.29. Guess which was almost sold out?

I shop with a calculator because many times the unit prices are for different units.

Anonymous said...

Signs all over the local supermarkets for the last few weeks that the detergent companies are becoming better for the environment because they won't be selling the larger bottles any more to cut down on the amount of plastic used. The detergents all say concentrated now and tell you which bottle equals to the bigger bottles. So fine, the really small bottle is 3 times as concentrated as the bigger bottle and is at least 3 times as small in size of the bottle. You would think that the price would be the same or even less since they have to use less plastic, costing them less. The price on some brands is the same and on others it has gone up. Do they really think we won't notice this?