The tactic of reducing weight to beat consumer attention

Marketer's who follow Weber's Law know that its important to keep any value deletions (from a product or a service) within the the just noticeable difference limit. This ensures that reductions in value are not readily discernible to consumers.

Increase in prices is easily spotted by the consumer, unlike drops in quantities. And dropping weights is a tactic being used by Indian companies to beat the rise in commodity prices. Sure consumers didn't notice; except that the media is now running stories on the same.

Result? The consumer is not amused. Dr Sri Ram Khanna of Delhi University's Department of Commerce, an expert on consumer affairs, has this to say, “This is clear deception. Earlier, companies were not allowed to do this. But recent rules allow them to get away. No buyer usually checks the net weight of familiar packs. Companies are using that to their advantage. Ideally there must be a public declaration on this."

How are the companies in question reacting? Companies are calling it “grammage adjustments to hold on to price points”.

Brands to watch out for?
  1. Maggi noodles, which always came in the familiar 100 gram pack, have gotten lighter by 5 grams. Price remains at Rs. 10
  2. A 250 g pack of Red Label tea has slimmed down to 245 g. Price remains at Rs 52.
  3. Unilever’s Wheel washing powder has cut 200 g from its 1 kg pack to keep the old price of Rs 21.
  4. You no longer get 100 g of Good Day biscuits for Rs 10; you only get 92 g.

Will consumer angst lead to reduction in consumption? I don't think so. But its fertile ground for a marketer to ambush his competitors by declaring to the consumer that his brands have not resorted to such deception. His brand's weights and prices remain at the level they were. Its perfect time for a marketer to run an Ad. on his brand, declaring its status quo maintenance.


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