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February 2, 2009

Kleenex Tissues Downsized

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 7:13 am

Paper products like toilet paper and paper towels have been downsized frequently. Now tissues are getting smaller too.



Kleenex has narrowed their tissues by two-tenths of an inch, from 8.4 inches wide to 8.2 inches, but the boxes are the same size. That is over 300 square inches less per box.

In addition, an eagle-eyed Mouse Print* reader (MaterialGirl) noticed that on the 120 count boxes the company made each tissue smaller AND reduced the number of tissues in the box to 110:


What does the company have to say about the downsizing?

In recent months, we have been faced with escalating prices for pulp and rapidly changing energy costs. Similar to other manufacturers, we cannot absorb these increased costs indefinitely without making an adjustment. While one of our competitors recently increased their price by six percent, we chose to maintain our existing price but decreased the number of sheets in some cartons. This direction allows us to offer lower promotional prices.

Also, we recently adjusted the sheet to a size equal to other tissues currently on the market, standardizing the sheet size in the facial tissue category. —Kimberly-Clark Customer Service

Although most shoppers won’t miss the two-tenths of inch from each tissue, for the company, the savings are nothing to sneeze at.

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  1. They’re “standardizing” the sheet size, that’s a good one!

    Comment by Peter — February 2, 2009 @ 7:51 am
  2. Hey, you forgot this! Two years ago they made the size of the tissus 1/2 inch shorter, down to the current length. Ahh, the American way of doing business—less for more.

    Comment by Bob — February 2, 2009 @ 10:21 am
  3. I’ve got news for you Bob – it’s not the American way of doing business – it’s the way of doing business – period. These companies are in business to make money. Edgar even states the average consumer is NOT going to miss 2 tenths of an inch of each sheet. So this is an effective way for this company to save costs WITHOUT raising prices and WITHOUT making a substantial change to it’s product IN THE EYE OF THE AVERAGE CONSUMER. Gee Bob, looks like Kleenex just did you a favor – you won’t have to restate your monthly household budget to allow for the increased price of all those Kleenex you’ll be crying into!

    Comment by Shawn — February 2, 2009 @ 1:18 pm
  4. It is a sad fact though. I work for a manufacturing company and with our sinking economy and the increased labor costs over seas (mainly China), the cost to produce items is going up. You either spend less to offer people the same prices or you offer the same stuff with higher prices.

    Business is about profit, and there’s only so much you’re willing to lose before you actually have to do something about it. I’m not sure if people would rather buy less product or pay more, but either way it sucks. And understanding the reason why it happens sure don’t make it any easier to deal with, haha.

    Comment by Mike — February 2, 2009 @ 2:17 pm
  5. Shawn–yes, companies are in business to make money, no dispute there. But what happened to “truth in advertising?” Pulling dishonest things like this makes “brand loyalty” go out the window with many people. If you’re not going to be honest with me, why should I buy your product? There are plenty of “fish in the sea,” many other tissue companies (or what have you) for me to choose from. I have no allegiance to any company, and am raising my children the same way. I also educate myself as to what product lines any particular company has. Like both Tide and Cheer are Procter & Gamble; Sprite and Dr. Pepper are both Coca-Cola products. If the COMPANY does something like this with even one of their product lines, they lose me as a customer for ALL of their product lines.

    Comment by Lisa — February 2, 2009 @ 2:32 pm
  6. I am glad that I switched to Handkerchief’s a few years back. Saves a lot of money and you never have that red nose feeling after a cold. Rubbing paper against your skin is just not natural. So many companies nowadays are downsizing their product and trying to slip it past the consumer. I do see that the average consumer will be duped but those that actually look at what they buy will notice.

    Comment by Martin — February 2, 2009 @ 3:10 pm
  7. Okay! I can see trimming off 2/10th of an inch. The way I figure it – blowing your nose doesn’t dirty up 100% of the tissue (unless you have a leaky nose caused from a cold!). Same with taking off make-up. I don’t miss the extra. However I do take issue with downsizing the number of tissues in a box.

    As I said many times before, I willing to pay more for the same quantity in the box. Just don’t downsize and charge the same price for it. Where’s the savings?

    Comment by Frankie — February 2, 2009 @ 3:35 pm
  8. How much is a box of Kleenex these days, anyways? I decided that it was a rip off years ago. We use toilet paper. In addition to the regular roll in the bathroom, I keep one in the living room and one on the night stand. There is even one sitting on my desk at work.

    I stock up when the four pack of TP is on sale for $1. My 25 cent “roll of Kleenex” can be customized to the necessary size and lasts quite a while.

    Comment by Julie — February 2, 2009 @ 4:17 pm
  9. I find it hilarious when people here state that companies are in business to make money THEREFORE it is OK to conduct business in any way they like. We ALL know that companies are in business to make money but that’s not the point here. The issue here is that they are increasing the price and that they are taking an active approach to HIDE it from the consumer. We understand and accept that prices will eventually increase at some point, but they dont need to lie and make us believe they’re not.

    Comment by Peter — February 2, 2009 @ 5:40 pm
  10. But what happened to “truth in advertising?”

    Lisa – PLEASE! There is absolutely NOTHING . . . . NOTHING!!!!!!!! . . . . NOTHING dishonest about the way Kleenex downsized it’s product!!!!! [portions deleted] The number of tissues and size is CLEARLY stated on the product packaging.

    Just because their decision to save company profits from slipping away doesn’t agree to the way you would do it, or they way you would PREFER them to do it, does not by any stretch of ANYONES imagination make them “dishonest”.

    [portions deleted]


    Comment by Shawn — February 2, 2009 @ 5:54 pm
  11. I too fail to see how this is, “dishonest”. To say that the company is being dishonest would pretty much straightforward mean they lied to you. As mentioned above, it IS clearly on the box. To further their actual HONESTY, they have nothing to hide in their e-mail to this site as well. They offer no denial and outright came clean telling us that yes things changed (as the label CLEARLY states) and here is why. As for hiding the changes from us, I don’t see that they are. How is labeling a box with its correct contents a lie?

    What would you have them do, send you a personal letter letting you know that they have changed their product size, and you can read so on the box in the store if you so please? This might be an extreme example, but what would you have a manufacturer do to put it out in the open more than stating factual information on their product? A retailer certainly would not entertain the idea of posting a sign to let you know there is a difference in a certain product, as that would lead to a loss of sales (which actually IS attempting to hide it, but no one is complaining about the actual stores here). I just don’t comprehend what it is you actually expect a company to do in addition to putting it in writing on their product container that would be feasable.

    While a box redesign might seem logical to some, there is actually ENORMOUS money involved in such a process (which would be payed for by the consumer… costing us MORE); furthermore, the average consumer is NOT going to notice a box size difference of two tenths of an inch, so many would still cry foul that is wasn’t noticable enough!

    I certainly can’t think that you are trying to argue that the manufacturer has not actually “been faced with escalating prices for pulp and rapidly changing energy costs” because we have all seen the brunt of less economic friendly times. To survive is a capitalist market one must read the fine print (failure to do so does NOT constitute a lie or allude to an attempt to hide its figures), that has always been the key. Just because the fine print changes does not mean that there is no “truth in advertising”. This is laissez faire economics, and no one is going to hold your hand. It is not up to the corporations to make sure you’re spending your money wisely, that is up to you! I thought that was the point of this site.

    There have been many dishonest attempts to fool us concerning product and promotions (such as the gas cards or lower fare for resorts), but I cannot in good faith side say this is one.

    Comment by J. — February 3, 2009 @ 12:36 am
  12. As anyone who has sat in on a courtroom trial knows, there are many ways of presenting “truth.” And one way is by making things appear one way when, in fact, they are another. This is how Kleenex is lying to the public. The boxes are exactly the same size, yet the tissues contained inside are smaller and fewer in number. The fact that the company prints the correct information on the box, thus complying by legal requirements to “tell the truth” is one thing; presenting the product itself like it once was, so that consumers think they’re still getting the old product, is quite another.

    I don’t have time to closely read the label on every product I purchase. For example, suppose I buy low-sodium canned corn. Must I closely read the label every time I purchase a can of corn to make sure the manufacturers haven’t added more sodium? If the label looks the same, with the same proclamation of “low sodium,” I’m going to assume the manufacturer hasn’t made any negative changes to the product.

    Do you honestly think that if Kleenex had made the opposite changes, adding more tissues of a larger size, that they wouldn’t have said something about those changes on their label?

    Comment by Jamie — February 3, 2009 @ 12:04 pm
  13. How about a little personal responsibility!

    These companies are not your MOMMY here to take care of you and do your work for you! You have resposibility as a consumer to know what you are buying WITHIN REASON which include some level of expectation to read the label. If you don’t have time to read lables that is your issue. This sense of entitlement continues to baffle me!

    Comment by Shawn — February 3, 2009 @ 1:18 pm
  14. I fail to see how they are hiding the information. Sure, they may not be changing the box size, but who cares? It 2/10ths of an inch really going to shrink the box enough to notice. I for one do read lables when comparing prices. I understand that brands can have different quantities per box. If I buy a brand because I perfer it, I won’t read a lable, because I would buy that brand regardless. Times are hard, we need to tighten our belts, so do producers. Rather than raise the price, they’re taking 2/10ths of an inch off of a product that we don’t use 100% of anyway.

    Comment by Lindsay — February 3, 2009 @ 1:48 pm
  15. Well I guess some people believe ignorance is bliss. Ignorance and acceptance is the primary reason why we have so many problems pending in this country. If more people were aware of the fleecing of Americans by corporate and government interests, perhaps we would have more control of our country. Keep living in your bubble and don’t complain until you cannot afford the product as the value for the price will not be commensurate. When it really affects you, nobody wants to hear your complaints as you should speak up now not later! Keep up the good work on keeping people aware on deceptive advertising.

    Comment by Chris — February 3, 2009 @ 5:13 pm
  16. @Chris
    The slippery slope argument really could go both ways. Tissue is a commodity, not a necessity. When consumers can no longer afford them, they’ll simply not buy them, and then Kleenex comes up as the loser in the supply and demand game.

    I would like to add that I really do commend what mouseprint does, but at one entry a week, couldn’t they have brought up something a little more than a smaller tissue. The quantity issue also doesn’t seem pertinent, as the stores I shop in list the quantity on the price right beneath the item, so if you can’t take the time to read the label, it’s still right in front of your face.

    Comment by Lindsay — February 3, 2009 @ 7:16 pm
  17. People, take a look at the picture and notice the quantity printed on the old box. Now take a look at the quantity printed on the new box. You notice how they significantly reduced the font size on the new box? geez I wonder why, could it be that they are trying to get you to overlook the difference. If you still think they werent trying to hide it then you’re in denial.

    Comment by Peter — February 4, 2009 @ 9:36 am
  18. To Shawn and others that feel that they are not being deceptive…

    Look at the photo of the box with 110 tissues vs. the box with 120 tissues.

    Notice that if there is less product there should be a smaller box!

    If you decrease the amount within the packaging and you are, as they say, ‘cutting back due to economic reasons’, then why not lower your cost even more by making the PACKAGING smaller too?! Hmmm, maybe so that the consumer will believe that they are getting the same amount?

    This is kind of like the Frito-Lay (Lays, Cheetos, Fritos, etc.) strategy of filling the bags with 0.5-0.6 the amount of chips as the bag can actually hold and filling the rest of the chips bags with air.

    The idea is the make the consumer think that they are getting the same amount for their money, when they are actually getting less and YES, that is deceptive.

    Comment by Kay — February 5, 2009 @ 4:12 am
  19. Kay

    There are huge costs involved with package re-design, so Kleenex is actually doing you a favor by keeping the old package so that the cost of that redesign are not passed onto you. And, have you looked at how small 10 Kleenexs stacked on top of each other are?

    Comment by Shawn — February 5, 2009 @ 3:55 pm
  20. OK, so let’s look at the arguments (since we see them here over and over):

    (1) Box size is the same (expensive to re-tool machines)
    (2) Fewer items in the box
    (3) Smaller consumable amount
    (4) Printing on box is smaller in key areas but otherwise virtually identical
    (5) Supplies cost more to manufacturer
    (6) Gas costs may affect deliver of supplies and delivery of product
    (7) Manufacturer/Vendors charge a premium for shelf space in major stores (not mentioned with the above but mentioned in previous discussions)

    In my opinion, (1) is acceptable. The cost of redesigning the tooling hardware to produce a new product can be expensive and has side-effects like requiring new packaging machines, etc. So if the product packaging doesn’t have to change, that’s a major benefit to the manufacturer.

    For (2), sure that fewer items saves money, but how much really? From 120 to 110 tissues they save about 10%. how much does a tissue really cost them, or a few extra corn chips, or an ounce of hydrogenated vegetable oil for the smaller “I can’t believe it’s not butter”? I would guess maybe 2-3 cents. Sell 1 million and you saved…$10,000. Barely enough for one minimum wage employee. A much more cost effective measure is to make your process more efficient and (horrors!) let go of some dead wood employees.

    (3) Smaller amount in the package? For tissues, probably not a big deal unless they get thinner. For other things it means less consumable product. As mentioned in the last paragraph, the savings is probably minimal.

    For (4), with printing the same pattern, that has to be for outright deception. There would be very minimal cost to change the color or design, especially since the container has to be redesigned to change the quantity to product dimensions anyway. I would call this the clincher that they are TRYING to deceive people.

    (5) Supplies are more expensive…have you looked for other suppliers? Renegotiate your contracts. The markets have collapsed everywhere so you can certainly find better prices with minimal effort. Then your products can stay the same size and price.

    (6) Gas prices fluctuate. This would certainly cause increased prices. Why not come clean and explain that the price is slightly higher because of increased gas prices. Just make sure to lower the price when the gas prices reduce (unlike what Subway did years ago when they raised their prices because of outside factors, then never lowered them when the factors went away…I don’t shop there any more!)

    (7) Paying a premium to get your product sold, so that consumers have to pay more because too many are so naiive that they’ll buy what they’re told? unfortunately, that affects the smart buyers that we have on this site. We cannot overcome that unless we either buy non-major brands or buy from local grocery stores that don’t play these tricks. Too bad that those smaller stores often can’t negotiate the same volume discounts and end up selling the products for about the same price.

    All in all, I would say that there are a dozen ways to keep the product the same price and size. Make your operations more efficient. Stop spending 50% of your budget on advertising and 40% on labor, then trying to save 30% by playing with the cheapest part of the equation: the 10% cost of the product.

    Comment by RS — February 7, 2009 @ 5:34 pm
  21. This is nothing new. In a former job my boss had come from the paper industry. He was quite proud of his role in passing increased costs on to the consumer **without their knowledge** doing exactly this type of thing. According to him they had marketing and board meetings where methods of making the change less noticeable and of distracting the consumer from the change were discussed.

    His favorite example was for tissue paper just like this. They would introduce a “Family” pack with a small discount (per sheet) but increased profits due to economies of scale/packaging costs. Obviously this is a good thing all around… more profits for the company and lower cost per sheet for the consumer.

    Next they would start reducing tissue count and/or size in the family packs. Eventually they would introduce a new family pack with smaller, less wasteful, packaging passing a few cents discount to the customer. (ie: they would shrink the boxes to fit the now smaller stack of tissues inside and give a portion of the savings to the customer.) About the time that the family pack would be getting close to the original non-family size they would introduce a “Jumbo” pack and start the cycle over.

    He said that in market research it was rare for a customer to notice the yo-yo sizing of the products. To them, the only time they paid more was when they were getting more in the form of larger “bulk/family/jumbo” boxes.

    Comment by Cory — February 17, 2009 @ 5:50 pm
  22. Name brand Kleenex is a ripoff anyway. Pretty much any store brand is just as good. I for one have a supermarket brand box by my computer, just for when I have a cold of course. 🙂

    Comment by Adam T — February 25, 2009 @ 2:04 am
  23. Although it happened in August of 2009, store shelves have only recently reflected the fact that Kleenex has discontinued their extra large, 3-ply facial tissue “due to lack of demand.” Every company I could find on the Internet has followed this trend to “boutique” size tissue. Many of them disclose the number of tissues in the box and the number of plies (always 2), but avoid giving the sheet size. I think one reason behind this change is that the tissue companies can flood store shelves with more varieties–of box style, shape, color, and design–in a given space because of the small size. They’re selling the boxes, not the contents.

    Comment by Thomas C. Brown — January 20, 2010 @ 1:01 pm
  24. I always respected the Kleenex brand tissue until now. It seems that they have now lessened the amount of tissues in the box. Shame on them. There are other brands out there that are cheaper and just as good. This is the last time I buy Kleenex brand tissues.
    I’m getting tired of shrinking products and raising prices.

    Comment by Debbie — October 22, 2011 @ 7:18 pm
  25. I noticed that they were smaller immediately. They are also not as strong. I have switched to another brand.

    Comment by susie franklin — November 5, 2011 @ 10:01 pm
  26. I have to say that I just noticed that the Kleenex tissue that I have been buying for years has shrunk. It is smaller. I am not very observant; thus I may not notice a change for a while but I finally notice this. Any smaller and a customer might need to go back to using handkerchieves, which some people may have done already.

    Comment by Nancy — December 8, 2011 @ 7:55 am
  27. I would have no problem in paying more now than I did years ago, for the same size box of Kleenex. What annoys me the most is that the number of tissues has been downsized so much that it seems I’m always running out and have to go get a new box from the cupboard. I try to buy the brand with the most in the box, but always watching the price per sheet. It seems to me that it should cost less per unit to put more product in the box (i.e., don’t downsize). Just look at the bulk product section of your supermarket.

    By the way, the same thing applies to toilet tissue. The old single roll of 400 sheets has been incrementally downsized to a roll of 200 with a much larger core. Now it’s been reintroduced as a double roll with the smaller core again.

    Comment by Wayne Price — December 11, 2011 @ 7:41 pm
  28. Why is it that big supermarkets only carry 3-4 major brands of toilet paper and never give smaller brands a chance? There’s a toilet paper called PASEO, which still has 400 sheets per roll (4.1″/4″) and a 12-pack of it is sold for 5 or 6 dollars, but only one store in New York sells it.

    Comment by Clay — December 13, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

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