Same price but smaller quantity of product: this is what “shrinkflation” is

Have you ever noticed in the supermarket that the box of your favorite cereal has decreased the quantityeven if the price seems to have remained the same same? If yes, you have found yourself faced with a case of shrinkflation (in Italian grammage“). This is a commercial and marketing practice widely used by various companies in recent years, considered by many to be incorrect because it “hides” the increase in the price per kilo (or per litre) while keeping the price unchanged but – for example – by reducing the size of the packages. However, when is this practice legal? Let’s see in this article the various mechanisms that underlie this phenomenon, which cases can we report to theCompetition and Market Guarantor Authority and what to do to defend yourself.

What does it mean shrinkflation and what this phenomenon consists of

The phenomenon of shrinkflation can be translated into Italian with “grammage” and comes from the English words “to shrink” – Meaning what to shrink – And “inflation” – Meaning what inflation. It is in fact a commercial practice in which a product “is reduced”, that is, it decreases in quantity, but not in quantity price which – even – could slightly increase.

All things considered, it is a “well thought out” price increase in order not to be noticed by the consumer. In fact, various market research has shown that i consumers I am more sensitive to price increaseswhile they hardly dwell on the quantity of product contained in the packages.

According to market data, the products most subject to this type of phenomenon are household productsamong which french fries, paper towels, cereals, cleaning products and candy.

Why it happens and when it is a legitimate practice

This phenomenon – as clear in the name – is linked to inflation, Meaning what the increase generalized dei prices of consumer goods which reduces the purchasing power of consumers. It is an effect that can have different and opposite causes:

  • L’supply-driven inflation occurs when consumer demand does not change, but for some more or less unexpected reason – such as the outbreak of a war or a pandemic – production or raw material costs increase;
  • L’demand-driven inflation it occurs instead when the intrinsic costs of the product have not changed, but consumer demand increases; in this case, the products on the market become fewer than those available to the seller who, therefore, can afford to increase the price, as the good is difficult to find at that specific moment.

Especially in the first of the two cases mentioned – the one in which the cost of raw materials increases – the shrinkflation it is used by companies for meet production costs and keep your balance sheet intact.

What are the risks of shrinkflation for consumers

Despite the practice Not both in itself illegal, however, many economists define it as a practice uncorrect, appealing to shrinkflation like one inflation occultwhich does not allow the consumer to perceive the decrease in their purchasing power.

The risk it is also that some companies use this methodology to increase their own profits, without inflation itself imposing it. For this reason, the Ministry of Business and Made in Italy (MIMIT) has taken a number of steps to defend consumers, including the obligation for companies report clearly and unequivocal lto quantity of product contained in each package and be transparent on the price per unit of measurement. However, it is possible, and recommended, report cases deemed deceptive or not very transparentCompetition and Market Guarantor Authority.

How to protect yourself from shrinkflation

The only real weapon that can be used to avoid falling victim to shrinkflation it’s attention. When we find ourselves in the middle of the shelves, it’s good practice compare products based on price per unit of size, and do not let ourselves be attracted by low prices. To give an example, a jar of yoghurt at €0.99 is not necessarily cheaper than a similar one which costs €1.30: if the first jar contains 110 g while the second contains 150 g, for the same quantity it is the second jar to be more convenient.

Other practices that can “deceive” consumers

There shrinkflation it is not the only methodology used to increase product prices without impacting consumers’ willingness to purchase. Indeed, they exist other tricks which can be noticed on supermarket shelves.

Special formats

Many brands take advantage of the release of a special product new to reduce the weight at the same price. In this case, the brand in question is banking on the fact that a product new come considered special and so be it more attractive for a consumer who, for the same price, will prefer it over the classic product, without However notice the decrease of content.

special shrinkflation products

The design change

Another very effective ploy is that of re-branding: the graphics and shape of the packaging are changed, so that compared to two different changes – that of aesthetics is that of prices – the consumer tends not to notice the second. Another aspect considered by brands in this case is that a design change often makes you think of one improvement also from a product quality point of view, which tends to push the consumer to purchase with more confidence.

The other methods

There are also various other methods adopted by different companies, such as that of propose packages in size different depending on the type of supermarket in which they are sold. A practical example to make the concept more clear sale of a single bottle of beer at the same price but in amount different different: while 66 cl formats are sold in hypermarkets, in normal supermarkets you can find the more classic 50 cl formats and in express shops even 40 cl formats.

supermarket sales marketing strategies