Haagen Dazs and Ben and Jerry Pint

I was at Target yesterday and took a closer look at the ice cream display. The same freezer display had both HD and B&J. The containers looked almost same in size, but you an see a subtle difference if you looked longer. The difference is more obvious when you pick the containers up and read the size printed on the packaging, HD is 14 oz and B&J is 16 oz. The price, HD is $3.29, $0.20 more than B&J.

HD is making 12.5% more just from size reduction. Will a customer picking up the ice creams notice the per oz cost? Definitely Ben and Jerry noticed it and pointing this out to the rest of us.

It is not just HD, many other CPG products are now undergoing shrinkage as marketers reduce the size for the same price. The marketing speak for this is “price realization”. I for one tend to believe products are priced lower than what they should be and completely agree with price realization methods. A marketer should not make it part of their messaging to  go after shrinkage of their competitive offerings as this limits their own price realization methods in the future.

Some customers, like this blogger, may look at this as deceptive marketing tactics. There is nothing deceptive about this, the real size is still printed in big size on the packaging. In a typical supermarket a customer has many options, in fact way too many options and can easily choose other products. The stores are also actively pushing their private labels.  What the CPGs are doing is the right strategy, focusing on preserving profit and forgoing revenue and market share.

What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Haagen Dazs and Ben and Jerry Pint

  1. Denial is another strong defense mechanism 🙂

    Call it what you will, the intent is to make things less transparent. Bought any bagged whole romaine lettuce or other bagged whole vegetables lately? Notice how the top of the bag is transparent but the bottom is opaque so that you can’t see the root portion which is the best indicator of freshness?


  2. Your point that reduction is size is subtle is correct. Studies show that customers cannot detect reduction in packaging when all three dimensions are changed (on the flip side if you want customers to notice that you are giving more change only one dimension). I think deception is too strong a word to use here. This is about influencing or nudging customers.


  3. It is a convenient delusion to believe that the choice is always the customer’s, since “the real size is still printed in big size on the packaging”. You will notice that shrinkage is often very small and almost imperceptible in order to avoid triggering the customer’s suspicion that the competitive products may not be of comparable size. Human beings use many sources of sensory input when shopping, including visual and tactile, i.e. does the package “feel” right, is the weight the same, etc. That’s why the shrinkage differences are usually very subtle, e.g. 1.75 liter vs 1.89 liter in the orange juice example.

    There is nothing inherently deceptive in having packaging of obviously different size, e.g. 500 ml vs. 1 liter. The intent to deceive is in the subtlety of the differences that are small enough to go unnoticed yet large enough over a big volume to significantly impact profitability.

    Psychologists have long studied how fundamentally good people can engage in less than ethical business practices. The mind’s capacity for self-delusion through a variety of defense mechanisms (including rationalization) is very much at the core of this phenomenon. Given what has happened to our economy in the last year, do you believe that all the perpetrators actually think they did anything wrong? I guarantee not! The Ego is extremely adept at protecting itself.


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