Have you ever shelled good money for “free” air.
Bet you have.
It’s called “slack fill”.
Let’s start with a confession …
In my courses, I proffer that marketers are put on earth to make people smile while flattening their wallets as quickly as possible.
Does that make me a bad person?
And, I assert that raising prices is a fast route to profits … as long as the increase is within a “zone of indifference” … i.e. as long as folks don’t notice.
Finally, I point out that there are basically 2 ways to, in effect, raise prices.
For example, you can get a 25% price increase by either upping the price of a candy bar from a buck to a buck-and-a-quarter … or, you can “hold the price point” and still charge a buck, but make the candy bar 20% smaller.
Usually, the latter tactic is less noticeable to consumers … so, there’s less chance of a backlash.
I argue that there’s no ethical issue involved as long as the change is well marked and relatively easy for an attentive customer to observe.
That’s where things are getting dicey these days.
Food manufacturers have always packaged products with some air … it’s called “slack fill”.
Sometimes slack fill is the result of manufacturing processes or settling during distribution.
Think, cereal or potato chips.
According to the WSJ, slack fill is being increased to, in my jargon, make the candy bar smaller
- ·McCormick started started putting 3 oz. of pepper in the same container that used to contain 4 oz .… that’s called “weighting-out” or “de-weighting”
- Old Spice cut the amount of deodorant, but kept the dispenser the same size.
- Slim Jim stayed slim, but got shorter … while wearing a roomy box that is 1.5” longer than Jim..
- ·oilet paper manufacturers have cut the number of sheets in a seemingly same sized roll … that’s called “de-sheeting”.
The practice is becoming so common that there are numerous lawsuits pending by aggrieved competitors and the FTC.
Are consumers being deceived?
Most legal experts contend that companies are ok by the law as long as they print the correct amount of product on the package.
They say: “Consumers may be mistaken, but the critical thing is that they in fact told the truth.”
The acid test from a legal perspective: Whether a reasonable person would be deceived by the practice.
Forewarned is forewarned, right?
Always remember: size matters !
Thanks to MH for feeding the lead.