Companies Shrinking Product Sizes, But Not Prices

Prof. Dan Howard says companies that subtly change the quantity of products are 'somewhat deceptive.'

shrinking size of products
SMU Marketing Professor Dan Howard
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By Nerissa Knight
CBS 11 News

DALLAS (CBS 11 News) ― From cereal and ice cream, to toilet paper and even soap, there's something happening inside North Texas grocery stores.  You might have already noticed it.  Your cost per item is going up, on many popular everyday items, and the additional cash is buying less product.

When the economy began to slump, manufacturers started looking for ways to cut back.  However, some people say the choice some manufacturers made is maddening.

Enraged shopper, Edgar Dvorsky, started when he noticed his groceries were actually shrinking. "The companies have found a sneaky way to pass on a price increase by taking out some of the content from the package, but making the package look the same size," he explains.

Dvorsky noticed the change in a jar of Skippy Peanut Butter.  To the untrained eye, there's no real difference between the old jar and the new jar.  But if you put to two side by side and look closely, you'll see there are actually two fewer ounces in the new Skippy jar than the old. . .

Dan Howard, a marketing professor at Southern Methodist University, says this is a company's way of instituting a price increase without actually raising the price.

"Price is much more visible," Howard says.  "Consumers notice the price before they turn the box over or the jar over and say 'Gee, I'm actually getting fewer ounces of what I just bought.'"

Packages of Dial Soap have also changed.  The original package gave you four bars at 4.5 ounces each.  The new version offers four bars at a flat 4 ounces each.  That's about a half a full bar less than the original.

Starkist Tuna has made some changes, reducing the size of their cans from six ounces to five.  "It makes me furious on the one hand," Howard said.  "But then I'm likely to laugh because it's so absurd."

According to Howard there's only one was to fight back against shrinking products.  "Speak with your pocketbook," he suggests.  "Refuse to buy products that engage in tactics like that."

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