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December 22, 2014

Here We Downsize Again – Part 2

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:52 am

  [Note: Our trusty mouse will return on January 5th.]

Continuing our series of products that have been downsized recently…

*MOUSE PRINT:

Bounty

Bounty eliminated six paper towels from each roll here. And despite the shrinkage, they are still called “giant” rolls.


*MOUSE PRINT:

Pampers

P&G continued downsizing some of its paper products by removing eight diapers from its Pampers Swaddlers boxes, but the price stayed the same.


*MOUSE PRINT:

Snickers Ice Cream Bars

If you had been looking for a cold, refreshing treat this past summer, you would have discovered that Snickers ice cream bars are now 10% smaller than they used to be. Thanks to John M. for the photograph taken at Walgreens.

• • •

July 14, 2014

Here We Downsize Again — Part 1

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:27 am

 Since last fall, manufacturers have been hard at work shrinking the products you buy everyday in an effort to make a price increase be less obvious.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Ball Park Franks

Ball Park Franks recently decreased their package size by one ounce, so their one pound packages are now just 15 ounces.


*MOUSE PRINT:

Chobani

Chobani decreased the size of their yogurt containers to 5.3 ounces saying they were just matching what competitors had done. Remember the days when the standard yogurt container was eight ounces? Thanks to SW and Richard G. for the tip on Chobani.


*MOUSE PRINT:

Super Scoop

Arm and Hammer took out almost two pounds of kitty litter from Super Scoop but kept the boxes the same size. How many people noticed that we have to wonder? Thanks to WAE for the tip on Super Scoop.

• • •

June 9, 2014

To Increase Profits, Product Makers Just Add Water!

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:49 am

  We all know that product downsizing occurs when some amount of the product has been removed from the package inconspicuously, but the price remains the same.

A close relative to product downsizing is what we call “product dilution.” The product is formulated or reformulated in such a manner as to make it less expensive to manufacture.

Exhibit A:

A classic example is Tropicana’s “Trop50” drink that boasts 50% less sugar and calories. How did they accomplish this? It only has 42% juice and the rest is water and flavoring.

Exhibit B:

And if you have poked around the meat counter lately, some whole chickens and boneless chicken breasts have been plumped up with up to 15% of “broth” (aka water). [Note how “fifteen percent” is spelled out to make it less obvious at a glance.]

*MOUSE PRINT:

chicken broth

Exhibit C:

Procter & Gamble recently has been “diluting” some of their products to come out with a new “value” line. Witness the introduction of Charmin Basic and Bounty Basic, a cheaper single-ply product compared to regular two-ply rolls. And then there is the new Tide detergent in the yellow bottle. Priced less expensively than traditional Tide and presumably with a less effective formulation, it is designed to complete with other bargain detergents.

Exhibit D:

*MOUSE PRINT:

DawnAnd P&G’s newest product, Dawn “Simply Clean” is just beginning to hit store shelves. It caught regular Mouse Print* reader Tim B. unaware, who bought a bottle of the new stuff thinking it was regular Dawn Ultra.

“I didn’t notice the label until I went to use the soap. Very watery and very runny. As expected, it does not perform as well as the Ultra so I have to use more. My problem when I shop, is I expect things to remain the same. And these companies continue to get me. Gwaltney bacon, I purchased a pack of that only to discover I got 12 ounces instead of 16. Anitfreeze that was “pre-diluted” which means I bought a half gallon of water and half gallon of anti-freeze. Packaged meat with “water added”. And now “Non-Concentrated ” Dawn, AKA more water added. I thought the “Simply Clean” was just a new slogan.

Sad part is years ago, companies would improve their product to get you to buy it. Now it seems everything is going the other direction, to make cheaper products.”

Our intrepid consumer is a technician by trade, so he decided to test both old and new Dawn to try to determine how much the new non-concentrated Dawn had been watered down. The old one was thick and gloppy, while the new one was much thinner. In fact, he says the new product only has one-third the “solids” as the old one.

So how do you feel about “product dilution?” Sound off in the comments.

• • •

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.

• • •

March 3, 2014

Tide Detergent Double Downsizes AND Raises Prices

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:03 am

  Procter & Gamble recently decided to make certain varieties of Tide detergent more costly for shoppers. Based on a Wall Street Journal story, the company appears to be raising prices an unheard of three ways simultaneously.

It seems to be passing on a straight list price increase of about 13% to retailers on Tide+ products. But it is also downsizing the product AND apparently diluting it (or making you use more).

Note to readers: We use the words “seems to,” “apparently” and “appears to” because P&G has used “pr-speak” (a.k.a. “spin”) in response to very pointed questions about these changes, as noted at the end of this story.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

Tide+ varieties with special scents, fabric softener, etc. are being downsized from 100 ounce jugs to 92 ounces — an 8% drop in contents.

But, not content to raise the price AND put less product in each bottle, you are now going to get fewer loads per bottle than even an 8% drop in contents would work out to.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

The traditional 100-ounce bottle was enough for 60 loads according to the package, while the new 92-ounce product only provides 48 loads. So an 8% drop in contents somehow translates into a 20% drop in the number washes you get. Huh?

That sounds like P&G is somehow diluting the product and/or making you use more per load. A look at the back of the bottle reveals the secret.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

According to the old bottle, you could get 60 medium-size loads of wash done by filling the cap to line 1. With the new bottle, you are instructed to fill the cap to line 2 for the same medium load and advised you will only get 48 such loads when used this way. Being told we have to use more to get the same job done suggests that the product has been diluted. Alternatively, we are simply being told to use more so we finish up the bottle faster. Medium load users in fact will be using more detergent per load if they follow the manufacturer’s recommendation, but large load users will be using the same amount. (Line 3 in the new cap is where line 2 was in the old.)

We asked P&G to explain these changes with very explicit, pointed questions. Here is how the company responded:

*MOUSE PRINT:

1. Why is Tide downsizing from 100 ounce to 92 ounce jugs?

With the introduction of the new Tide Plus Collection, we have standardized the load sizes across variants (previously there were 5 differing load designations per same size bottle based on the variant) to make shopping the line easier.

2. Are you in fact also raising the price to retailers of Tide+ products? If so, by an average of about how much?

I cannot share our pricing strategies. The significant performance innovation behind this new introduction will carry an average 13% list price increase (on a cost per load basis) but it is important to note that it will be retailers that set the price that consumers pay.

3. How is it that an 8% drop in contents (from 100 ounces to 92 ounces) results in a 20% drop in loads in each bottle (60 loads down to 48)?

This is not a direct correlation; we have upgraded the formulas which has impacted dosing.

4. Is the product the same formula, for Tide+ Febreze, for example, in both the 100 ounce and new 92 ounce size?

We are bringing significant innovation behind the launch of The Tide Plus Collection, providing a one wash wow with even more of the performance and fabric care benefits consumers expect from Tide

5. Have you diluted the product necessitating having to use more, or are you just telling consumers to use more than before for the same size load? (Old instructions: fill to line 1 for medium loads; new instructions: fill to line 2 for medium loads.)

We have updated the usage to align with the formulation and the increasing size of wash loads. — P&G Fabric Care Communications/Corporate Media Relations

The bottom line is this: Getting less detergent in the bottle, having to use more product per load, and paying a higher price at the store means consumers are really being taken to the cleaners.

• • •
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