Marketing To Consumers So You Can Get Less Product For The Same Price

Look Closely And You’ll Notice Changes In Packaging

As late, great comedian Bill Hicks once pointed out, marketing is one the banes of human existence.

Marketers are people who find a way to monetize everything and convince you that you need things that you don’t. Or worse they assume many consumers have suffered a bout of amnesia, and will believe that paying more for less product is a good thing.

The rising cost of raw materials has driven companies and their marketers to slyly pass along their increased costs.

The understanding among packaging and marketing people is that consumers do not like price increases under any circumstances. Therefore if you reduce the amount of product you are getting and keep the price the same, consumers either won’t notice or mind.

Whether it’s coffee, cleaning fluids, potato chips, chocolate, canned vegetables or paper towels; packages have been shrinking.

Where else does six equal twelve, except in the Mr. Mxyzptlk math world of Bounty paper towels?

A few years ago Tropicana reduced the packaging of their juice from 96 oz. to 89 oz. and the 64oz. container to 59 oz.

I called the 800 customer service number and foolishly asked Tropicana why they had done this.

The customer service representative replied to me with a supposedly straight face, that customers wanted new ergonomic packaging and preferred less juice!

At least Tropicana changed their packaging so you might notice you were getting less product.

Which brings us to Dare, a Canadian baker of delicious cookies.

In our headline photo on the left is the original Dare lemon creme cookie package. On the right, the new packaging.

Besides a new close-up photo of the cookie and some additional writing, the package dimensions are exactly the same and not much seems to have changed.

New and improved and better tasting lemon Dare cookies. That sounds great even if the old cookie recipe was fine.

Besides the fact that they are “made better,” “flavored with real lemons, have no artificial lemons and no preservatives,” the boxes are incredibly similar.

But if you look closely at the fine print, two things become apparent.

The new total net weight size is 2.1 oz less than the old package.

Opening up the cookies on the older packaging this is what you would see.

Three rows of six cookies apiece.

The new packaging does not contain any surprises.

Now there are three rows of five cookies apiece.

The retail price remains $2.99. The amazing thing is that Dare did not even reduce the size of the packaging internally or externally. There is just an empty spot in each row where a cookie once was!

We will continue to see this abracadabra of reduced packaging in all products.

Can we have some honesty here instead? If a manufacturer is going to give less product, be up front about it and say “Now 15% Less Than Before!”

Okay, that surely won’t happen.

So maybe the real answer is keep the packaging the same and increase the price. Not all consumers are oblivious and don’t notice the product reduction.

Consumers realize prices go up. Don’t try and convince us that 8 equals 10 or we’re getting more for the money.

Just pass the price increase along. Consumers can then decide whether your brand or a competitor’s is worth the money. Maybe then we will have half gallon ice cream packages and one pound coffee containers return to the shelves.

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1 thought on “Marketing To Consumers So You Can Get Less Product For The Same Price

  1. Kevin

    I was at the grocery store looking for the Entemann’s pound cake. All I could find was their “butter cake”, so I bought that instead. When I took it to the check-out, the cashier laughed and said, “They had to change the name.” When I asked why, she said, “Look — it weighs less than a pound now.” The weight was now something like 14.5 ounces.

    If nothing else, I learned why the real thing is called a pound cake.


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