Paying more to bring home the bacon


Generally, in growing economies, inflation is almost inevitable and as time passes, prices of just about everything are certain to increase. According to CBC news, the price of pork has risen by 25%, chicken 10%,       hotdogs 18% and ground beef, 43% over the last four years. However, instead of honestly stating they are having to raise their products’ prices to compensate for rising costs of ingredients, labour, etc., countless large retail companies have attempted to fool consumers into believing their products’ prices haven’t changed. 
One method retailers use is to reduce the size of the product, but charge the same price or slightly more. Grocery store aisles are filled with examples of the   downsizing trend: Pampers now have fewer diapers per package, cereal boxes are becoming taller but skinnier with less product in the boxes, Old Spice deodorant sticks have a new look, but are a quarter ounce smaller, one litre cartons of Neilson chocolate   milk have been transformed into 750 ml containers, and 500 gram packages of bacon have been reduced to 375 grams. Yet you pay the same or slightly more for less!
Other tactics include               disguising the package shrinkage by saying it’s a ‘new economy size,’ or for the benefit of the environment, or labelling smaller packages as ‘portion controlled’ while maintaining it’s for the   benefit of the consumer. For example, certain granola bars  that used to be about 120 calories each are now advertised as          ’90 calories!’ as if they’ve reduced the calories. No, they just made the bars smaller and charge the same or more for them.
Retailers are not the only guilty parties; consider the price paid for a driver’s license in Quebec. Drivers used to pay about $90 every two years for a standard vehicle license. In the last few years, the SAAQ decided to cut the price in half and charge the fee every year instead. But surprise, that amount slowly increased each year to the point where drivers are paying about $90 per year, which represents a 100% increase.
So how are the companies able to get away with this secretive practice without much flack from the public? Perhaps their tactics are working and people really don’t notice the changes. Maybe it’s because we are more sensitive to changes in price than quantity. Or is it because price is the        first thing we think of when we pick up a product rather than        quantity? 
According to Joe Freeburn, a Marketing Management dean, when there is up to a 10%     reduction in product, consumers don’t seem to be concerned. When that line is crossed,  there seems to be more of a reaction.
The public knows prices almost always increase with time, despite our frustrations. So why hide the obvious and resort to   dishonest practices that leave   customers feeling cheated when manufacturers try to change product packaging without letting them know they’re getting less for their money. Another example of how less is more?
Allyson Beauregard, Editor