Shrinking feeling as manufacturers trim their sails
Manufacturers continue to hit consumers with price rises by stealth by cutting product sizes.
The world's biggest producer of men's razors, Gillette, is the latest culprit cutting the number of replacement cartridges in its Mach3 Turbo packs from five to four while keeping the price the same, effectively a 20 per cent price increase.
It is the latest in a long line of companies to try to avoid the consumer backlash that often comes with price rises by keeping the price the same but reducing quantities.
In recent years chocolate, ice-cream, biscuits, potato chips, cereals, yoghurt, butter, coffee and even toilet paper have all been down-sized.
Cooking oil is another product that has recently undergone a stealth price rise, with bottle sizes of some brands falling from 500g to 450g and from 2 litres to 1.8l.
Some consumers have picked up on the changes and have taken to online message boards to voice their displeasure.
"Reducing volume/weight but keeping the price the same somehow fools people," one supermarket shopper posted last week on a noticeboard. "Not many people notice 10-15 per cent volume/weight changes."
Consumer New Zealand adviser Maggie Edwards said shoppers had to be smart if they wanted to avoid falling into the downsizing trap, and pay close attention to weights and measures on packaging.
"You need to check unit prices, even with things that you've got comfortable and familiar with," she said.
Unit pricing – displaying the price of goods per unit measure, for example the cost per 100 grams – was introduced at New World and Pak'n'Save supermarkets two years ago so that customers could better compare the price of goods between between brands and packet sizes.
The problem, Edwards said, was that unit prices were printed in small type and it was still often difficult to compare prices. "It's definitely a step in the right direction, but you do still have to do some mental calculations."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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