Sleeker packaging, less product - MoneySense

Sleeker packaging, less product

Have you noticed how many products have redesigned their packaging as of late?


There’s a new trend afoot. Manufacturers are coming up with sleeker packaging for old stand-by products. Is it an attempt to attract us, to appeal to our aesthetic? Are they just “freshening up” their line? Or is it a clever disguise to hide smaller quantities being sold for the same price? Three guesses and the first two don’t count.

Consumers have become much more aware of prices as they deal with higher levels of unemployment and news reports of a wobbly economy. Manufactures seem to have decided as one not to raise prices. Instead, they’re offering you less for the same price, but in shiny new packaging.

There are all sorts of reasons for food prices to go up. It costs more for the stuff itself and transportation costs have gone through the roof. Manufacturers are in the business of making a profit, but their sneaky smaller-packaging strategy seems designed to trick us. Hey, those Stupid Consumers won’t notice if we’re shorting their container of juice by a whole glass if we give ‘em a sleek new plastic jug!


Whether it’s eight fewer diapers in the box, 7 oz less of orange juice, or 10 sq. ft. less of toilet paper, consumers are starting to notice that the new packaging is disguising the fact that manufacturers are shaving up to 20% of what they used to deliver.

Some changes are so small you might not notice. When the tuna can changes from 3 oz to 2.6 oz that might just slip right past you. And you might even welcome the change if the ice cream container you wish you hadn’t bought now has 2 oz less ice cream! But you should at least know so you understand why your shopping dollars aren’t going as far as they did just weeks ago.

It’s not enough to watch prices when you’re shopping. You’ve got to keep your eyes on the price per unit to see how much you’re really spending. Otherwise you’ll see your grocery budget go out of whack and you won’t understand what you’re doing wrong. It’s not you. It’s the smaller package that is driving you to buy more.