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May 19, 2014

Those Devilish Keebler Elves Downsize Some Cookies

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:37 am

 Welcome ABC World News viewers!

Leave it to the Keebler elves to come up with a devilishly clever way to downsize their chocolate chip cookies so that it might go unnoticed by shoppers.

Exhibit A:

Keebler

The above picture was the traditional package of Chips Deluxe cookies until last fall. Then the company decided to refresh the look of their entire line and came out with new yellow packaging.

Exhibit B:

keebler2m

Savvy shoppers know when they see “new and improved” or “new look” on a package that could be a clue that the product has been downsized. In this case, however, Keebler kept the net weight of Chips Deluxe cookies the same — 13.3 ounces.

Then, not long thereafter, the company decided to downsize a few of their cookie varieties as inconspicuously as possible.

Exhibit C:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Keebler

Those clever elves took out two to three cookies from each package, reducing the contents from 13.3 ounces to 11.6 ounces, but retaining the same “New Look” packaging. Even the savviest of shoppers who checked the package when they first introduced the “New Look” packaging would ever think to check again the next time they bought the item to see if it had been subsequently downsized.

Mouse Print* asked Kellogg’s, the maker of Keebler cookies, some very pointed questions about why they downsized, and whether they realized that maintaining the banner “New Look, Same Great Taste” after they downsized the product could easily mislead consumers into believing that only the packaging changed.

The company responded:

“As commodity prices and other costs increase, Kellogg occasionally adjusts package sizes and wholesale prices, and we offer a range of product sizes to meet differing consumer preferences.” –Keebler Media Hotline

Inconspicuously downsizing a product continues to be a sneaky way to pass on a price increase in the hopes that most shoppers won’t notice.

• • •

17 Comments

  1. And another fine example of a half-baked, generically meaningless response from the Elves’ master. I imagine that “passive-aggressive” communication skills must be at the top of a corporate spokesperson’s resume.

    Comment by Marty — May 19, 2014 @ 9:01 am
  2. Notice how Kellogg corporate once again dodges the inherent question, which is:
    Why did you introduce the new packaging, initially keep the same weight, THEN, continue with that same new packaging and THEN roll out a discounted weight some period after. A direct question, give your consumers a response please that is not smoke and mirrors.

    I wasn’t buying their products much to begin with, now this confirms it. No more dollars of mine, no matter how many coupons you issue Kellogg!

    Comment by Caroline — May 19, 2014 @ 9:41 am
  3. Package downsizing. The bane of my grocery shopping experience.

    Some consumers are ignorant and do not realize how much of a product they are actually buying, I get that. Personally, I prefer to buy a certain amount of a product and downsizing the package actually makes that worse. In the end I have to pay the same amount if not more so the psychological game of keeping the “price” lower is just annoying to me. I read the package price AND the unit price. It’s the package price that tricks people.

    Comment by Wayne R — May 19, 2014 @ 10:47 am
  4. Why not just raise the price (which is what they did). At this point its getting a bit silly.

    Grocery stores could put an end to the practice overnight. Everything is priced per oz that makes sense. I suspect whoever moves to that model first gets a first mover advantage.

    Comment by me — May 19, 2014 @ 11:28 am
  5. Caroline, if you weren’t buying their products initially why do you say “no MORE dollars of mine”?

    All of you people with your [edited] outrage, it does get a tad funny. If they kept package same size but increased price by 20% you would be outraged. I don’t know why people think that companies are supposed to offer a public service, that they are supposed to run and break even or even lose money.

    Comment by Max — May 19, 2014 @ 11:28 am
  6. Wayne R, the only thing that gets me about “unit price” is the tricks stores do. They will have coffee on the shelf, but for brand ABC they will break down the price per ounce but the package right next to it for XYZ brand they will list the price per pound.

    Yes, I calculate it on my own, but it is hilarious how the store tries the same gimmicks to fool people.

    Comment by Max — May 19, 2014 @ 11:29 am
  7. I think they did it that way Caroline to distract you…

    See the Bold words new packaging so do not see the change in size of the package.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — May 19, 2014 @ 12:01 pm
  8. Max, what Caroline said was she “wasn’t buying their products much to begin with,” not that she wasn’t buying them at all.

    What I object to is not the price increase, it’s the sneaky way they go about doing it. If the package said, “Fewer cookies, but still the same great taste,” that would be honest. Had they put more cookies in the package, so it went from 11.6 oz to 13.3 oz, do you really think they wouldn’t have a banner headline on the package, shouting to the world about the package size increase? MORE COOKIES FOR THE SAME GREAT PRICE!!!

    Comment by Jamie — May 19, 2014 @ 1:30 pm
  9. @max:

    I don’t think it is the price increase that gets everybody worked up, it’s the fact that it is done without any notification. Yes, they tell you that the net weight is 11.6oz, but would you remember that the previous package you purchased maybe a month ago was 13.6oz? Probably not. A price change on the shelf is noticeable by the consumer and the product competitors. You may not notice the change in cookie quantity until you try to pass them out to your kid’s kindergarten class for snacks. Bad time to find that out…

    They are most likely following the rules concerning package labeling. They tell you the package weight and since they apparently selling by weight, that is sufficient. Granted, you don’t eat cookies by weight, but by the piece. Maybe selling cookies (or any product you consume by a fixed amount) should be on a per piece price, not by weight.

    Mr. Mouse Print, did they update/change the nutritional labeling on the new package to indicate the new (lower) servings per package?

    Edgar replies: The old one said about 11 servings of two cookies, while the new one is about 10 servings of two cookies.

    Comment by bobl — May 19, 2014 @ 1:55 pm
  10. Don’t buy the products, just bake your own, cheeper and far better for you. Let them keep scratching thier heads like all the other bad stuff for us. Did you know soda sales are down? It’s working.

    Comment by Michele — May 19, 2014 @ 2:31 pm
  11. What I find interesting about all this downsizing, is that, at least in my case, Vons Grocery Stores lets me know–up front. They have a program called “just for U”, which is basically a club program. Periodically, they issue updates to their website that is divided into three sections: 1. coupons 2. Personalized deals and 3. Club Specials. One browses the first two categories and must press the “add to card” button to get the special. The Club specials are pre-programmed into the system. So, if you’re a Vons Club member, you need not push the “add to card” button.

    What I have discovered, is that they are broadcasting upcoming incidents of “downsizing.”

    The way they do this is list the item like this: “Acme Frozen Beets”–13.3 oz to 16.5 oz pkg. It didn’t take this rocket scientist long to deduce that the current size is 16.5 oz and in the future it will be 13.3 oz.

    I would imagine that the packaging industry is making quite a bit of money off these moves, as at some point they will have to run the new sized unit pack, and master cartons, at a minimum run–the artwork re-do, etc., etc., not to mention the built-in price increase we consumers will ultimately suffer. They ALL do it. By the way, what ever happened to a half gallon of ice cream?

    Comment by robmidi — May 19, 2014 @ 8:55 pm
  12. Well Jamie… If they did say.. “Fewer cookies, but still the same great taste” That would be a first for a food company. That would be honest, but also piss me off at the same time to not buy the product.

    Those 2 less cookies per package are important.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — May 20, 2014 @ 9:25 am
  13. @robmidi,
    Are you sure that’s what it is? I remember paper coupons, especially manufacturer’s ones that have a percentage or dollars off limiting the promotion to a certain range of package sizes, or even lists specific package sizes. This is to limit the discount to those sizes only, not to advertise future downsizing

    Comment by BZ — May 20, 2014 @ 1:06 pm
  14. @BZ,
    Yes, I thought of that, but most of the items I commonly buy don’t have a variety of sizes that are that close together. My thought was that they do that in case they have left-over stock in the larger size when the new, smaller size comes in. That way they are “covered” in their ads. It isn’t that they are intentionally advertising two different sizes. I understand what you mean when, let’s say it applies to laundry detergent that is available in 32 oz., 50 oz., 90 oz., or 150 oz. I get that. But frozen veggies are not as likely to be available in sizes that vary by only a few ounces. For the record: I do NOT eat beets!

    Comment by robmidi — May 20, 2014 @ 9:10 pm
  15. Stealth in both downsizing and pricing. I have suggested, via email, to a few manufactures to make a poll out of it. Price increase or downsize? Seems many of them do both.

    Comment by bogofree — May 25, 2014 @ 12:36 pm
  16. Richard,

    So when you get your downsized package of cookies home, not noticing it was downsized, and discover fewer cookies, are you going to be any less ticked off at the company? Though I suppose in this case, at least by not advertising the downsizing, they suckered you into buying the product one last time.

    One of Kroger’s products was not only downsized in the last few months, they raised the price per package, AND they didn’t update the serving size information. While the serving size has remained the same, the older package had 32 servings per package and the downsized version has only 27 servings, yet the box still says “32 servings.”

    Comment by Jamie — May 25, 2014 @ 10:28 pm
  17. Lots of things now come in smaller “standard” sizes.

    The 1 pound can of coffee now contains 11-13 oz. The half gallon of ice cream is now 3 pints. The half gallon of orange juice is now 59 oz.

    And the “best” way that a company has boosted its profit margin is Trop50 juices; they advertise “half the sugar” but what they really did was to dilute the juice by 50%.

    Comment by njcatlover — May 30, 2014 @ 12:35 am

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