North America

Shrinking Sizes: Why You May Be Stocking Up on Essentials More Often

Rosemarie Loria considers herself a savvy shopper and she recently noticed something different about the six-pack of Coke she buys.

“It started out as a small, fat can with 8 ounces,” she said. “They introduced a taller can and it went from 8 ounces to 7.5, so you lost quite a few ounces.”

Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate, has been tracking the downsizing of products for 30 years.

“It’s not your imagination that you have to keep changing the toilet paper roll more frequently,” he said.

According to Dworsky, the shrinking of products comes in waves.

“Manufacturers like to keep prices seemingly stable while increasing their bottom-line,” he said. “How do you do that? The only way you can is to shrink the product.”

On a recent shopping trip, Dworsky found new and old versions of the same products, sitting on the shelf together and priced the same. He found containers of Maxwell House Coffee – one with more than 30 ounces, the other with only 26.8.

“It went from 240 cups in a container down to 210 cups,” he said.

Two 12-packs of Ultra Charmin were about the same size, but one had 154 sheets per roll and the other had 142.

“You lost a dozen on each of the rolls,” he said. “You’ve lost 144 sheets, so you basically lost a whole roll.”

A closer look at two seemingly identical two-packs of Crest toothpaste reveals one has 5.1-ounce tubes, the other 4.6 ounce tubes.

“You would have no idea,” he said. “Looks exactly the same, but you lost about 10 percent in each tube.”

NBC Responds reached out to the companies that make these products.

Procter and Gamble, the maker of Crest and Charmin, said: “There is a cost element to innovation … adjusting the count per pack or the package size is one way of delivering this innovation while maintaining a competitive price point. Pricing is at the sole discretion of the retailer.”

Coca-Cola said: “Consumers have told us they love our smaller, more convenient packages. In North America, we’re seeing double-digit growth in these sizes.”

The maker of Maxwell House said: “The alternative to changing the price of any given product is to change the package size.”

If you’re looking to save money, take the time to look closely at the packaging. Use coupons; take advantage of rebates; and if you find a great deal, buy in bulk.

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