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December 19, 2016

Here We Downsize Again – 2016 (Part 3)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:46 am

Our next issue will be January 2

We wrap up the year with more items that have shrunk in size — many of them spotted by eagle-eyed Mouse Print* readers.

Happening right now in a dairy case near you is the downsizing of flavored varieties of Philadelphia whipped cream cheese. The 16 ounce containers are going down to 15.5 ounces, and the 8 ounce ones are slimming down by half an ounce as well and that’s a greater percentage loss. Thanks to Richard G. for spotting this one.


Philadelphia cream cheese

There are many categories of grocery items that are serial shrinkers like toilet paper, potato chips, and ice cream. Well, we have a new candidate today – frankfurters. And in particular, Mr. Consumer’s favorite dog (until now), Nathan’s.


Nathan's frankfurters

These no longer “bigger than a bun” frankfurters went from a full pound down to 14 ounces in 2012. And just recently, they knocked another two ounces off, bringing Nathan’s down to just 12 ounces. This is some way to celebrate their 100th anniversary. The regular short ones, incidentally, are still 14 ounces.

A favorite of moviegoers is a box of Junior Mints. In the past few months, however, the packages have been downsized by 12-1/2 percent to three and half ounces from four.


Junior Mints

Following a downsizing by Colgate a few months earlier, could other brands be far behind? Sure enough, Crest Pro Health shrunk from 6 ounces to 5.1 ounces. (Thanks for the tip, Wayne L.)


Crest Pro Health

Even dollar store, old time favorite Pepsodent was downsized. (Thanks for the tip, Richard G.)


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  1. If Nathan’s is truly Machiavellian…they’ll conspire with bakers to proportionally downsize their buns, to keep up the illusion.

    Comment by Marty — December 19, 2016 @ 8:02 am
  2. I don’t see any difference between dropping unit size and raising prices and I never see higher prices highlighted. Is dropping unit size chided because it’s somewhat less transparent than raising prices?

    Edgar replies: That is exactly correct, Daniel. The inconspicuous downsizing of products is a way to pass on a hidden price increase. Most shoppers don’t memorize and then check the net weight of a product every time they buy it. So a clever manufacturer will often shave off an ounce of contents, leaving the package the same size — effectively raising the price. Shoppers are price conscious, but not net weight conscious. They are more likely to notice the orange juice went from $2.99 to $3.09, rather than the container being an ounce or two less.

    Comment by Daniel T — December 19, 2016 @ 8:34 am
  3. When products downsize it makes it difficult to accurately follow recipes, especially with those passed down through generations. This is especially true as campbells soup has shrunk. 1 can of soup 20 years ago is now more like 1/2 a can now. Same goes for cream cheese as most recipes call for 8 oz. It would be impossible to change the measurements of a recipe to account for 7.5 oz. One would have to buy 2 packages, hmmm.

    Comment by Nancy — December 19, 2016 @ 9:29 am
  4. Well Daniel T.. Edgar is 100% right here. The public as a whole is going to look at price more than size. Consumers are more price sensitive.

    NOT me though. I always look for size and new packaging instead of price.

    When it comes to Pepsodent I have seen it sold at a grocery store for 1.25 a tube, but I spotted the downsize at a Walgreens.

    Toothpaste sure did get the downsizing in 2016.

    Comment by richard — December 19, 2016 @ 11:17 am
  5. Consumers notice price much more than they notice package size. Even with legislation requiring some stores to list the unit price of products, consumers still do not investigate how much product they receive for the amount of money spent.

    I regularly purchase Crest Pro Health, and it is my favorite toothpaste. I will continue purchasing Crest Pro Health, but I am still insulted that Crest is using the downsizing tactic. I still use the same amount of toothpaste, so a smaller package is just an inconvenience.

    Smaller packages also affect recipes and portion sizes. Now that many packages are less than 1 pound (16 oz), consumers have to purchase more packages to obtain that amount. The manufacturers will win either way.

    Thank you for using my submission, Mr. Consumer.

    Comment by Wayne — December 19, 2016 @ 5:12 pm
  6. It is more than just an inconvenience Wayne it is that extra sale or two per year you wind up having to pay for toothpaste.

    You are going to be spending at least 6 bucks more a year for two extra tubes of Crest toothpaste without a coupon a year.

    Comment by richard — December 19, 2016 @ 8:56 pm
  7. Toothpaste alternative (Disclaimer: It’s an acquired taste, following years of chemical sweetness): Generic store brand baking soda. 16 oz for 79 cents.

    Comment by Marty — December 21, 2016 @ 10:37 am
  8. People may be more price conscious but I think they are still put off by shrinking sizes. When one piece of string cheese is somehow less satisfying you may not even consciously correlate it with the smaller size of the product but you still may feel that it wasn’t satisfying. Same goes with hot dogs. You might be more inclined next time to seek out a heftier dog just based on its bigger size. For every person they think they might put off by raising prices I’m sure they’re putting off at least as many based on shrinking sizes. I’d bet my PhD in Psychology on that one!

    Also, when you start to feel like you’re buying more and more of a product it can cause an aversion to wanting to buy it again so soon. Again, you may not even realize consciously that it’s due to a reduction in product size but even so you might still find other ways around buying it so often. I’ve found myself using less of a product in an attempt to stretch it out longer or making sure to use every last drop instead of throwing it out with a half an inch in the bottom of the jar. Or buying certain things only if I have a coupon or it’s on a great sale.

    Comment by Ronnie — December 24, 2016 @ 12:49 am

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