February 27, 2013

Another Shrinking Container

I was running out of ketchup the other day, so I picked up a bottle while I was at the super market. When I got home, I discovered that the bottle I bought was slightly different from my last bottle. It didn’t take long to notice that not only was the shape of the bottle different, but that it contained 2 ounces less ketchup. Alas, this is not unusual. Rather than raising the price of a product, the price will be kept the same, but the container will hold less product. Since the container has to be modified anyway—the reduced product quantity must be changed—the container often receives a major new design. The casual consumer will be struck by the new container and may not even notice that he or she is buying less.

Thus was I lured by Heinz into buying the new 38-ounce ketchup bottle thinking I was buying the same quantity I had purchased last time, namely 40 ounces. In the picture below, you can see the old 40-ounce bottle on the left and the new 38-ounce bottle on the right. (Click on the pictures for larger images.) The new bottle has a more pleasing shape, but it is harder to hold than the 40-ounce bottle. It also has a larger label printed on an attractive textured paper. Notice that the “40 OZ SIZE” neck band has been replaced with a “HEINZ 57 VARIETIES” neck band. There is no need to advertise the reduced container size.

Old 40-oz Ketchup (left) and new 38-oz Ketchup (right)

Only at the bottom of the label do we learn that the new bottle contains less ketchup.

Heinz was the culprit this time, but I’m sure all readers can cite a product that experienced similar shrinkage.


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