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Shrinkflation

I learned a new word today: shrinkflation.

Shrinkflation is defined as “a term used to describe the process of a product’s size being reduced while its price remains the same.”

Actually, I’ve been aware of this phenomenon for years, just like everyone else. I’ve just never had a name for it.

The first time I remember noticing it was quite a few years back when I was purchasing a certain bath product. I noticed one day that there was less product, but the price hadn’t changed. And the way they had cleverly re-packaged it made it look like you were getting the same amount.

But it really hit me recently when I was buying some of my usual deodorant. The shape of the container had changed. It was made to look like it would be easier to grip, kind of rounded in on the sides. How handy.

And then I got suspicious. I looked closer, comparing the old container with the new one, and saw that the amount of actual deodorant had been reduced by several grams. Surprise, surprise, the price was the same.

Not only that, but on the label, the size of the font with the number of grams had gotten smaller. Trying to hide something?

According to Wikipedia, “Shrinkflation allows companies to increase their operating margin and profitability by reducing costs whilst maintaining sales volume, and is often used as an alternative to raising prices in line with inflation.”

It’s just sneaky, you know? And how long do these companies think they can get away with it? At this rate, my deodorant will be the size of a crayon in a couple of years.

I’ll bet these big companies all have a Shrinkflation department. Nerdy people who sit around all day trying to figure out how to give us less and still charge us more. Change the packaging, make the content look like more than what it is. Give it a new name.

Sometimes they’re very clever, but other times all we have to do is know how to count. That box of tea bags used to last me a month. And didn’t I change that roll of toilet paper just the other day?

To be fair, occasionally there is a legitimate reason for a price increase or shrinkflation. The cost of producing something might go up unexpectedly, for instance.

The makers of Toblerone chocolate created a huge scandal a few years back when they changed the shape of the bar, making the gaps between the triangles wider, AND raising the price. Their explanation was that there had been an increase in the cost of cocoa so it was more expensive to produce. After a public uproar, they finally gave in and went back to the old shape. But the price went even higher.

Deodorant is one thing, but don’t you dare touch my chocolate!

There are some suggestions out there as to how to shop more wisely so you get the same bang for your buck. And of course, you can always complain, write emails, or post blogs.

One of the suggestions I read was that you don’t have to stay loyal to a brand. There’s an idea. Shop around for a competitor’s product and buy that instead. Ha!

Actually, I think I’ll take it one step further. I may just give up using deodorant altogether, and raise a REAL stink. That’ll teach ’em.