Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Less is More: Packaging Design and Inflation

From Core77: Educated consuming is one thing; sleuthing out clever design tactics is quite another. On the Today Show earlier I witnessed what was probably a eureka moment for a packaging designer. Through tricking consumers into buying less, at the same price, without noticing, new packaging has created a design solution to corporate cutback. The segment referenced a few leading brands:

Skippy reduced their peanut butter 2oz by changing the shape of the bottle, only noticeable if you look from the bottom. On a shelf, it's the same as usual. By the way, still the same price!

Apple Jacks reduced their contents from 11oz to 8.7oz. From the front the old and the new look exactly the same, but from a profile comparison, not so. Again, still the same price.

Kleenex has reduced the size of their tissues from 8.4in x 8.4in to 8.2 x 8.4. Seems like a small change, but at their production rate, that's a lot of $not.

Tropicana reduced their orange juice containers by 7 ounces. They say, new packaging, not less product.


Without old boxes in the stores or at home to make comparisons with, these changes are hard to spot with our plain eyes. John Gorval, Marketing professor at Harvard Business School (who studied consumer sensitivity to price vs. package size) says, "If you ask most people what a bag of potato chips cost, they're pretty good at giving a number, ask them how much is contained in that package, my guess is that they have no idea."

Frito Lay says their "weight out" project earned them "double-digit profit growth." While "raising the prices would probably have created the opposite effect," says Gorval.

Perhaps however, things just got too big, and now we have to use crafty design tricks to fool ourselves back to healthy serving sizes? Leave your comments, this could get juicy.