Product Downsizing

Seven On Your Side
October 22, 2008 7:25:04 AM PDT
If you weren't watching you might not notice. When you shop at a supermarket, the boxes on the shelves are getting smaller. In the industry, it's called downsizing. These two boxes of cereal may look identical, but if you turn them sideways, one box looks a bit thinner.

"Look at the depth of the box, this is often a subtle change that you see." Tod Marks of Consumer Reports Magazine told to Seven On Your Side's Tappy Phillips.

Call it the shrinking product. In this instance, the box had nearly 20 ounces of cereal while the new skinnier version? Just 17 ounces.

Tod says, "The incredible shrinking product is one of the sneakiest tricks marketers use to raise prices." That's because products gets smaller, but prices stay the same.

Hershey's dark chocolate bar calls itself "giant" on the wrapper. But when you stack it up next to it's predecessor, it looks like it went on a diet.

"The devil, once again, is in the thickness," Tod says. "The old eight ounce bar is considerably thicker, than the new and improved 6.8 ounce bar."

And Skippy Peanut Butter shrunk from 18 ounces to 16.3 ounces. At first glance, the jars look the same. But a closer look shows the new one is indented.

Tod says, "what that does is that area doesn't become fill able space. It's just a little less area to put merchandise in."

Dial Soap is 11 percent smaller, they made the bar more contoured. "It's like you took a knife and you shaved a slice out of it," Tod says.

Most product manufacturers we called, said increased commodity and energy prices were the big reasons for their product down sizing. But the makers of Tropic ana orange juice, who down sized from 96 to 89 ounces, were looking for, "A container that was easier to use, that didn't spill as much and that didn't gurgle."

Well, mission accomplished. When we poured it, we heard no gurgling.

Experts say ways to check if a product is down sized is to scan the unit prices on the store shelves. It's located right next to the price. Now, if you see the price stays the same but the unit price goes up, you'll know you're getting less product for the same price. But buying cheaper store brands or stocking up on name brands when they go on sale is a way to beat the price hikes.


Story by: Tappy Phillips
Produced by: Steve Livingstone