Monday, May 19, 2008

Size *Does* Matter!

...especially when it comes to my container of frozen yogurt. So, I bought the same kind of frozen yogurt that I always do (Dreyers Slow Churned Fudge Brownie). It's more expensive than the other frozen yogurts, but really worth it. When I got it home and put it in my freezer next to the remains of my last container, I noticed something shocking. It was nearly an inch and a half shorter!I made a passing comment about it in Deschutes, to which Robert suggested it may be for logistical reasons. Perhaps the container has a larger diameter than the last. To be sure, I checked when I got home and I'll be damned if it wasn't the same diameter. Just shorter! In fact, the container now holds only 1.5 quarts, versus the 1.75 that I used to get for the same amount of money.

As it turns out, I've fallen victim to the commercial industry's tactic of 'Short Sizing'. The increase of this phenomenon is a product of the steady rise of gas prices. Gas, along with other factors, has caused many companies to resort to guerrilla packaging in order to maintain their padded profit margins. It's happening with ice creams, peanut butter, and more. Cereal companies are making their boxes thinner, soup companies are filling cans with more broth...and pleading concern for customers.Apparently, the big-wigs up in their offices think that raising prices will hit the American consumer too heavily. Instead, they have taken it upon themselves to reduce the amount of product provided for the current sales price. This way, they can maintain their profits without putting a noticeable dent in our pocketbooks.

In my opinion, this is an incredibly deceptive way for the suits to keep their products flying off the shelf in the ripening of a depression. They're effectively removing the consumer's power to gage what they're spending and have instead created an environment where consumers are tricked into believing that their grocery bills are relatively steady. What happens when families living at poverty level run out of bread, milk and cereal earlier than they used to, but haven't budgeted any extra money for the expense because they were not aware that they had been given less for the same price?

I'm not trying to claim that this practice should be illegal. In fact, I think that it could be a good way to help Americans learn to do with less. I do, however, believe that companies have a moral obligation to post some sort of announcement on their packaging or point of sales signs to keep their consumer's informed.

"Now 20% shorter for your purchasing pleasure!"

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