By Jill Cataldo
The topic of product “shrink” – when manufacturers reduce the size of a product while keeping the selling price the same – continues to be a hot one. I’m irked by this trend, but I had no idea how incensed my readers had become with smaller sizes. You guys have been busy reading packages, comparing labels, ounces and volume. And you should – it’s your money, and you should make informed purchases.
Here’s a new roundup of reader mail from my readers regarding product shrink.
In my role stocking shelves at a local store I’ve noticed packages of toilet paper getting smaller. The number of rolls is the same, and the number of sheets is the same. However the width of the rolls is shrinking. When you shop for TP, look to see if one package is taller than another and compare the square footage of the package.
— Mr. C.
Got another shrinking product for you! I bought some cone-shaped air fresheners (name brand, I’m sure you know which one!) and these cones have always been 7.5 ounces. Well, they designed the cone to be “prettier” with a teardrop shape. But guess what else? The cones are now 7 ounces, not 7.5. Not nice at all, and I noticed the price didn’t go down either.
— Holly A.
Reader Andrea has noticed a different kind of product “shrink” – an increase in the amount of water used in her favorite spreads and sauces. They’re literally being watered down.
Thinking about your column on smaller products prompted me to see if any of your readers have noticed watered-down things. I first noticed apple butter poured out of the jar instead of needing to be spooned. Then it was thinner enchilada sauce and hot dog chili sauce. I stop buying brands when I notice this. Packaging is deliberately misleading and always has been in some form, but this is nearly criminal. It tells me that business is not a rosy as we would be led to believe, if companies need to virtually rob their loyal customers to make a profit. I would rather pay more for a quality item than be treated as if I’m stupid and won’t notice the change. That’s why I no longer patronize these brands. Do you think they will notice?
Brands that are willing to water down the formulations of products that consumers are quite familiar with definitely run the risk of those same consumers abandoning the product when it no longer lives up to its former standards.
Speaking of standards, check out our last email for today. Marion discovered a lower percentage of active ingredient in her mouthwash. If you saw two different-sized bottles of the same brand of mouthwash, wouldn’t you assume that the quality of the mouthwash in each bottle would be identical? That wasn’t the case when she went to the store.
I read with interest how companies downsize their products and I think they are deceiving us. Here is another deception: I use a specific brand of mouthwash because my dentist recommended it. You would think buying the larger size would be more economical. The large size looks exactly the same product as the 18-ounce size. A look at the active ingredient, sodium fluoride, reveals the percentage of it in the bottle is half the strength of the percentage in the other size. This is truly corporate deception at its best since most of us would assume the same product is in all size bottles!
Smart Living Tip: With manufacturer contact information on brands’ websites and Facebook pages, it’s very easy to share your frustration directly with the brand. While not all brands will heed their shoppers’ advice, it’s good to provide feedback on the products you buy. If you’re passionate about a brand that has recently downsized, let the brand know you’ve noticed.