In today’s inflationary environment “shrinkflation” is impacting products at retailers across channels, and customers are noticing.
Alternately called the grocery shrink ray, deflation or package downsizing, shrinkflation refers to maintaining or even upping product prices even as that product shrinks in size, quantity or quality.
According to a recent consumer survey by Morning Consult, nearly two-thirds (64%) of all adults are worried about shrinkflation. In all, more than half (54%) have seen, heard or read something about the practice.
There is nothing new about it. Product downsizing is a decades-old tactic that is used during inflationary times. The practice is, in part, based on the research finding that indicates consumers feel more negatively about price increases than reductions in product size or quantity.
Toilet paper is a good example, since nearly every brand has downsized at one time or another. One leading brand reduced the number of sheets in one of its SKUs from 264 sheets to 242 without changing the price.
To help distract shoppers, smaller-size packages are sometimes redesigned to be more eye-catching.
Interestingly, shrinkflation does not necessarily mean the end of the larger-sized packages. However, those larger packs usually carry a higher price and may be labeled “family size” or “party size.”
To no one’s surprise, consumers and consumer protection groups don’t care much for the practice, and so retailers who take part in it may run the risk of inviting popular disapproval based on the belief that the manufacturer and the store are trying to “put one over on” shoppers.