Tag Archives: packaging

“Shrinkflation” Takes Hold in Product Sizing

The small things matter. Small in this case meaning the quantity in a package. In case you haven’t noticed lately, prices are going up and contents are going down.

If you’re not sure about this, consider the new sizes of common household products such as toothpaste and toilet paper. Example: A Crest toothpaste once contained 4.1 ounces of teeth-whitening product, but now contains 3.8 ounces. Gatorade was 32-ounces, but not it is down to 28 ounces. And (in case you are counting sheets) a roll of Cottonelle toilet paper has shrunk to 312 sheets, compared to its former count of 340 sheets.

Meal portions at restaurants have also been impacted. At Subway restaurants, the chicken wraps and sandwiches have less meat now. Domino’s Pizza reduced the order size of boneless wings to 8 pieces from the usual 10 pieces. Burger King is also downsizing its nugget meals from 10 to 8 pieces. What is going on?

At first glance none of this seems too alarming, but this movement is called “shrinkflation” and tends to not retreat once implemented. Shrinkflation is when manufacturers cut down on the product size or volume in a package, rather than raising the price on the customary size. This happens during times of increasing raw materials and supply chain cost increases. It’s not illegal, but it does seem a little sneaky. And, once the new sizes and prices have been accepted, new standards are in place for consumers and their wallets.

Are your foods shrinking?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What have they observed in their purchases? Are the sizes or prices the same?
  2. Show video about shrinkflation: https://youtu.be/q13_06F4_HI
  3. Discuss why manufacturers are making these changes. What are the reasons?
  4. How is shrinkflation accounted for in pricing?
  5. Discuss various pricing models: demand-oriented, cost-oriented, profit-oriented, and competition-oriented.
  6. Which pricing model is being used with shrinkflation?
  7. Offer an outside assignment for teams of students. Have them visit a local store and examine products that illustrate shrinkflation.

Sources:  Patton, L. (12 May 2022). Fewer nuggets, smaller salads: Shr9inkflation hits U.S. Restaurant Diners. Bloomberg.; Skores, A. (16 May 2022). Inflation up, product size down. Dallas Morning News.; other news sources.

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Fresh Food Vending Machines

Consider the humble vending machines. They are virtually everywhere, and we do mean everywhere! We see them in stores, hallways, offices, subway stations, laundry mats, gas stations, and more. Not only are the vending machines convenient, but they are easy to use, can take cash or cards, and consumers do not have to interact with a cashier or sales person. Easy. Fast. Convenient. And, usually not very good eating.

Yes, the common vending machines as just that – common. They have been around so long that they no longer excite consumers. There is nothing particularly interesting, and virtually little food that is healthy for us. When was the last time you looked forward to eating a meal or snack dispensed by a vending machine?

That may be about to change with the advent of new machines that dispense fresh, healthy food in high density locations. Instead of soda, candy bars, and chips, today’s machines carry salads, yogurt parfaits, pudding, specialty coffee drinks, and much more satisfying fare. Not only are the foods better, the service is faster than stopping at a fast-food joint and waiting in long lines. And, as an added bonus, some of the machines will even recycle the packaging to reduce waste.

Here are few of the new alternatives:

  • Farmer’s Fridge – 400+ machines in office buildings and food courts in six states
  • Fresh Bowl – Seven locations in New York
  • Chowbotics – 100 salad robots that build orders from touchscreens
  • Le Bread Xpress – Five bake machines that cook croissants, pizza, and quiche
  • Briggo – High-end coffee cars that make 100 custom drinks per hour

Hungry and in a rush? Let’s meet at the vending machine.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Where are vending machines? What do they buy form vending machines? Why do they buy from vending machines?
  2. Divide students into groups. Have each group take an existing vending machine and work out an update for today’s consumers.
  3. Alternative: Show Web sites of new vending machines dispensing fresh food and have a team of students analyze each vending machine and company.
  4. For each company, determine the target market, where it should be located, and the messaging.

Source: Black, J. (13 February 2020). The machine that lets you skip the salad bar. Wall Street Journal.

 

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Disturbing – But Realistic – Images for Cigarette Packaging

Packaging is a critical component of marketing tactics. The package is an important tactic in connecting with the consumer and showing the value of the product. But, what happens when the packaging images are disturbing and show the consequences of buying the product? Will consumers choose to not buy the products?

This will soon be tested in the U.S. Recently, the FDA announced that it has a new set of images to be used on cigarette packs. A warning message and graphic will cover the top half of a cigarette pack. The new images are striking, especially when compared to the current packs and warnings. The new images portray diseases associated with smoking; the intent is to help improve the public’s understanding of the consequences of smoking. Images include warnings about lung and bladder cancers, diabetes, heart problems, blackened lungs, bulging tumors, and more.

The FDA’s suggested packaging is still under review and it isn’t known whether tobacco companies will fight the proposals. While the U.S. was the first nation to require warnings, the current warnings as seen as inadequate by the medical community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 13.8% of U.S. citizens smoke (nearly 38 million people) and 480,000 people die each year from smoking-related issues, making it the nation’s leading cause of preventable death.

While one might think that the perils of smoking are widely understood, the World Health Organization in 2019 said that warning labels “are most effective when they are pictorial, graphic, comprehensive, and strongly worded.” Other studies have found that the graphic warnings reduce the appeal among youth.

What’s your opinion?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of packaging as part of the marketing mix tactics.
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team find examples of both strong and weak packaging.
  3. Show the new cigarette packaging in class: Video – https://youtu.be/1R8XUf-EI0k
  4. Visuals of the new labels can be found with a Google search: https://www.google.com/search?q=new+cigarette+packaging&client=firefox-b-1-d&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjv1PGjsLPkAhXLGDQIHbk-DckQ_AUIEigC&biw=1280&bih=606
  5. For more context, the WHO report can be found at: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/326043/9789241516204-eng.pdf?ua=1
  6. Additional research from Cornell: https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2018/11/graphic-warnings-snuff-out-cigarettes-appeal-kids
  7. What are the students’ opinions of the new packaging?

Source: Kaplan, S. (15 August 2019). The FDA’s new cigarette warnings are disturbing. New York Times.

 

 

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