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April 16, 2018

Here We Downsize Again (2018) – Part 1

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:04 am

In the never ending saga of products shrinking in size as a means to pass on a sneaky price increase to consumers, we offer these three new ones thanks to our eagle-eyed readers.

John R. spotted this gem in the dairy case. As he points out, orange juice makers laid the groundwork for being a commonly downsized item when most brands discontinued half gallon containers in favor of 59 ounce ones. And now at least one big brand is at it again.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Simply Orange

Simply Orange has just gone from 59 ounces down to 52 ounces. On its website, the company explains their decision:

The decision to reduce our 59-ounce PET package was made after careful consideration of the current cost pressures within our supply chain as well as clear data on consumer’s price preferences. We are committed to bringing quality juices and drinks to the market and have decided to reduce our 59-ounce PET package in order to keep prices fair for our loyal customers. As part of our ongoing commitment to keep shoppers well informed, we are communicating the new 52-ounce PET package size on the Simply website and we are making the package weight more prominent on our front-of-pack labeling.




The ever-shrinking toilet paper roll is getting smaller again, at least for purchasers of Quilted Northern. Our ace downsizing detective, Richard G., found the latest example.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Quilted Northern

The “mega” roll has gone from 330 sheets to 308 sheets.




Lastly, TRESemme shampoo has downsized at least one of its varieties again.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tresemme

TRESemme

Most varieties of TRESemme were 32 ounces originally. Then they were downsized to 25 to 28 ounces depending on the type. Now a “new look” bottle signals yet another change — this time it is down to just 22 ounces for one variety.

Thanks to Richard G. for finding this latest change. If you spot a product that has shrunk in size, try to send a sharp picture of both the old and new package to Mouse Print*.




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March 26, 2018

Tropicana Kids: No Nutrition Sacrifice?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

Tropicana is known for its pure juices, many not made from concentrate. Now they are coming out with a new product line called Tropicana Kids, which was just announced via a press release.

Tropicana Kids

Looking at the front of the product label reveals that it is organic, which certainly implies to many that this is a healthy choice. And their senior vice president touts the product, saying:

“We’re thrilled to launch Tropicana Kids, offering an organic, premium fruit juice drink for busy parents who don’t want to sacrifice their kids’ nutrition, …”

Indeed, the words “real juice” appear on the front of the label, but it is hard to read the smaller type above it.

*MOUSE PRINT:

It says “Sweetened with real juice.”

Huh? That is an odd expression for what one might assume is a juice product to start with.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tropicana Kids

There’s the answer! The first ingredient in this juice drink is water! And their press release announcing the product offers what might be a surprising explanation to many :

Tropicana Kids is an all-new line of certified USDA Organic premium fruit juice drinks offering delicious taste for kids with nutrition parents expect. Available in three flavors—Fruit Punch, Mixed Berry and Watermelon—Tropicana Kids is made with 45% real fruit juice and mixed with filtered water, with no added sweeteners, no artificial flavors and is an excellent source of vitamin C. Plus, the packaging features a clear panel so moms and dads can see the goodness inside, and feel good about serving Tropicana Kids to their children. [Emphasis added]

While it is a big plus that there is no added sugar or corn syrup, we’re not so sure that grossly diluted juice is a better nutritional choice for parents to make for their kids than 100% juice.

And certainly, the real nature of this product is not obvious from looking at the front of the package, peekaboo window or not, because parents can’t readily “see the goodness inside” just by visual inspection.




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March 19, 2018

Weight Watchers: Get Paid $100 to Lose Weight?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:57 am

Did you see the Weight Watchers commercial last month that promised to pay people $100 to lose weight? Really? What’s the catch?

Weight Watchers make $100

*MOUSE PRINT:

The $100 offer stays on the screen for exactly two seconds at the end of the commercial. In that time, never mind trying to read the mouse print, you can’t even read the large print, which says to qualify you have to lose 10 pounds in three months and that a purchase is necessary.

The reasonable consumer might therefore believe you have to buy a membership for at least three months, and then you qualify for the money back. Not so. You actually have to remain a member and pay membership fees for six months — twice was long as what some might have expected.

So how much do you have to pay to get back $100? The company has several membership plans, and the pricing varies by region. In Boston, the online only membership plan works out to $3.07 a week (or $79.82 for six months); the in-person meetings plan is $6.92 a week ($179.92 total), and the “coaching” plan is $12.69 ($329.94 total). [Note: These plans incorporate a discount because they are being purchased on a multi-month plan.]

So if you pick the online only plan, they literally will be paying you to lose weight because you will come out ahead by $20. For the other plans, the $100 rebate is a significant reduction from the regular price.

Other than potentially leading consumers to believe they could quit after three months, Weight Watchers seems to be doing exactly what they promise. How novel!

But not so fast. We asked their PR folks to confirm that a member choosing the $79 plan will in fact get back $100. We got no reply. Twice.




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March 5, 2018

A Different Kind of Downsizing

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:11 am

Christian M. wrote to us recently about a different kind of downsizing. It seems he purchased a canister of Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and noticed that it had been downsized.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Lysol wipes

Both canisters have 80 sheets, but the net weight dropped two full ounces from 19.7 oz. to 17.7 oz.

Did they make each sheet smaller? A consumer can’t tell because unlike a package of paper towels, the dimensions of each sheet aren’t disclosed on the label. Or, did they put less Lysol disinfectant in the package? Who can tell?

Our consumer took pictures of the old and new wipes.

lysol wipes side by side

The old sheet, on top, is made of solid material, while the new sheet, which is slightly larger, appears to have a waffle weave, with pockets that are almost see-through.

We wrote to the PR folks at RB (formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser) asking what was reduced — the amount of disinfectant, the weight of the wipes when dry, or both. Their spokesperson replied in part:

…the total weight of our Lysol Disinfecting Wipes product has been reduced due to recent innovation with the wipes themselves, while still providing the same cleaning power and unbeatable disinfection, killing 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.

In 2017, Lysol launched a new non-woven substrate, scientifically redesigned in cooperation with consumers, highlighting a ‘peaks and valleys’ pattern. The ratio of liquid and non-woven have been optimized to guarantee sufficient wetness for a precise cleaning and disinfection, while providing the benefit of “trapping and lifting messes”.

So, maybe it was a combination of less liquid and thinner sheets, but who knows.

As an aside, it does seem odd that this product category has net weight statements seemingly based on solid weight (wipes plus liquid combined). RB says the way they declare the contents is consistent with federal rules which do not require sheet size for this type of product.




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February 26, 2018

RXBARs: Simple Ingredients, Simply Incomplete Ingredients List

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:23 am

Our friends at TruthinAdvertising.org discovered an interesting fine print issue that we want to share with you.

There are many “health” bars on the market that frankly look like glorified candy bars except they are made with healthier ingredients. On such product is called RXBAR:

RXBAR

They came up with a brilliant marketing gimmick to put a big and bold ingredients list on the front of each package to convey its contents. Their slogan is, “We tell you what’s on the inside on the outside.”

Shoppers may well grab this bar or one of the other varieties thinking that the four or five ingredients shown are the sum total of the contents.

*MOUSE PRINT:

The ingredients panel on the back of the package lists all the ingredients in the actual order of predominance:

Dates, Peanuts, Egg Whites, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt.

While the number of missing ingredients was minor for this flavor, the other bars that the company sells can have up to nine total ingredients while only four are shown on the front.

rxbar varieties

Even their television ad seems to acknowledge that prospective purchasers could be misled by the ingredients list on the face of the package because they inconspicuously make the following disclosure at the end of the commercial:

*MOUSE PRINT:

disclaimer

A company spokesperson told TruthinAdvertising:

“We do not claim that the front of the packaging represents all ingredients in the product.”

What do you think? Are the RXBAR packages potentially misleading?




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