Polish consumers have recently been suffering from the phenomenon of downsizing, that is, reducing the packaging of products in order not to increase their price. Experts advise getting used to.
According to experts, due to high inflation, the so-called. reduction in retail. Unfortunately, this trend will accelerate because manufacturers are now in a difficult situation. They deliberately reduce the weight of the package. At the same time, experts on the subject add that companies need to be more transparent, that is, more clearly and clearly communicate such changes on the packaging. In addition, experts note that there is currently no fraud if the necessary information is on the packaging. And they add that part of the blame lies with consumers, who rarely check the grammage.
Manufacturers are massively reducing packaging
In the public space, they are increasingly talking about layoffs in retail. According to Dr. Krzysztof Luczak, a longtime retail market expert, this phenomenon is becoming more and more common in everyday shopping. Manufacturers usually reduce packaging in terms of grams. For example, instead of 200 here 180 grams. But at the same time, the products remain in the same package so that they visually look identical. This state of affairs is confirmed, for example, by the latest survey of the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, in which more than 52% of respondents said that they can definitely be seen in stores. On the other hand, more than 22 percent respondents confirmed that this can often be noticed.
“This phenomenon has existed for a long time, but it intensified when inflation increased. This makes it easier for producers to smuggle in price increases. The consumer will notice that something has risen in price, but it is not so easy for him to notice the difference in the grammage of the package. Thus, it can be said that downsizing is now a major problem affecting more and more products. comments Joanna Wosińska, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Pro-Test magazine.
“Very difficult decision for the company”
According to Andrzej Gantner, vice-president of the Polish Federation of Food Producers, reducing weight without reducing the price of the product is a very difficult decision for the company. This is due both to the cost of replacing packaging, the need to renegotiate commercial contracts, and the risk of consumer backlash. It is usually used as a last resort, when other means of compensating for rising production costs have been exhausted, and studies show that another increase in unit price will lead to loss of customers. According to the expert, the current economic situation, in which there is no fault of manufacturers, forces companies to make such decisions. We are dealing with an increasing trend that will continue until the cost of production begins to fall.
“About six months ago, I saw an internal study done for a major food producer in the central part of the country. The company wanted to know if the consumer prefers smaller packaging and price retention, or prefers the same weight and increase. Then almost 60% of respondents indicated the first option, which gives food for thought – adds Dr. Luchak.
Downsizing and shrinkage
Joanna Wosińska notes that size reduction is most common in the food category. But this also applies to other categories, such as cosmetics. But perhaps the most surprising example is toilet paper. Manufacturers save, but not by reducing the collective packaging, for example, subtracting one or two rolls. This will be easy for the consumer to notice. The buns just “melt”, i.e. become thinner or looser. And it’s harder to see at first glance. The consumer will have to weigh the toilet paper.
– The process of changing packaging and weight takes time. I think that many companies made such decisions in the second half of last year. We are currently seeing the consequences of this choice in stores. In some product categories that do not require packaging, such as some baked goods and confectionery products, the process is less visible. Changes can be made almost overnight and spread out over time. When it comes to packaged products, it’s hard to imagine a company changing packaging every now and then – analyzed by Andrzej Gantner.
The buyer often does not know what he is buying
According to Dr. Luchak, manufacturers should clearly and clearly communicate weight loss on packaging. For example, by placing the text: “Attention. The product has a new weight.” This can make the consumer interested in this thread. According to the expert, this does not happen in practice. Such an action can negatively affect the image of the company. Therefore, one can hardly count on such an action, unless it is applicable to the opposite situation. That is, a smaller package will be replaced by a larger one at the same price.
– They say that it is the consumer who controls the market through his buying choice. This is true as long as he makes an informed choice. Meanwhile, the specificity of downsizing is that the grammage is reduced in a veiled way. The consumer should not notice this, unconsciously reach out for the familiar product, not noticing that now it has become smaller. The size of the package remained the same, only its contents decreased. Of course, the manufacturers explain that the weight is indicated, says Joanna Wosinska.
This is not customer fraud.
Andrzej Gantner, in turn, points out that changing the grammage while maintaining the information required by law on the packaging and with the price per 100 grams or milliliters visible on the store shelf cannot be considered misleading. Consumers, faced with a rapidly rising cost of living, are looking for cheaper products, but are also reluctant to give up their shopping habits and favorite products. Each of us uses an individual cost standard assigned to specific products. It indicates the upper acceptable price for a given product in relation to the benefits of the purchase. Therefore, we will accept a decrease in grammage faster than an excessive increase in the unit price.
– We know from many market researches that Poles really rarely check their weight on their own. Therefore, they can have the most claims in this regard. Of course, manufacturers are also not without fault. The role of the consumer is to check the product, including its price in relation to weight, adds Dr. Krzysztof Luczak.
Joanna Wosińska, on the contrary, emphasizes that the consumer cannot always imagine how much 70 g of chips, 230 g of tomato paste or 45 ml of cream cost. We also don’t remember how many chips were in the package yesterday. Therefore, even for people who read labels, it is very difficult to understand whether they are now getting less product in the same package or still the same amount. According to the expert, manufacturers manage to imperceptibly reduce grams. Many buyers do not notice this.
“Unfortunately, the trend will accelerate, because manufacturers are now in a difficult situation and will want to compensate a little for this. The process can only be stopped if it is of great concern to consumers. Retrenchment is an undeniable anti-consumer practice, regardless of what manufacturers and retail chains say, as well as how consumers behave. This problem needs to be addressed effectively so that it does not spill over into the market. However, not all so simple – summarizes Dr. Krzysztof Luczak.
I am George Brown, author at Daily News Hack. I mostly cover economy news and I have been doing this for quite some time now. I have a lot of experience in this field and I’m always looking for new opportunities to learn more.