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Cost Cutting Strategies By Businesses and Effect on Consumers

Updated on September 13, 2014

WW width compared to W width

Savvy Consumer

How savvy are you as a consumer? It used to be that when gas prices went up the consumer would notice it not only at the gas pump, but with a cost increase in products in the local supermarket, due to increased manufacturing costs and/or higher shipping cost. However, I’ve noticed the businesses are taking a different tack in cost cutting strategies these days. I can’t decide if they think we, the consumers, won’t notice or if they really don’t realize how ridiculous some of the changes are. My main complaint regarding ridiculousness is with shoes. Let me explain:

For years, I purchased a particular brand of shoe. Usually, I bought a couple pair of canvas shoes in the summer months and the same shoe in washable leather each winter. My foot is wide (EE or WW) and I have trouble buying in most stores, so I usually order from a catalog or special order from a store.

A year or so ago, I ordered a pair of their canvas version and when I tried it on it just didn’t feel right. My foot overlapped on both sides of the sole, yet the shoe felt roomy, not tight as if it were too small. Just to look at it, it appeared to fit however, walking on it was a different story. I realized the sole for the EE/WW size I ordered was the same sole that would used on a more slender foot. They had added extra room on top with the canvas. Really; how could anyone not know that was not going to work? My assumption is that it was manufactured cheaper by using extra cloth for the top and less rubber for the sole. They lost a customer. I have not tried their product again.


Food Items

Recently I purchased a small stick of sausage from the local supermarket. I noticed it felt a little smaller when I picked it up. Rather than increase the price on the product, they had simply reduced it from a 16 ounce package to a 12 ounce package. Checking the price of bacon, I found they had also reduced the weight amount of their package with no change in price.

Some beverage companies are now offering soda in varying size bottles/cans, different from the sizes we have been purchasing for years.

The change seems to cover a lot of different type products, such as the popular peanut rounder (candy) sold in this area which is usually 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, suddenly has become about 1/8 inch thick.

These are not the only ones I’ve observed using this new tack and I guess it works for them, but perhaps they haven’t given thought to the fact that many recipes are written with instructions giving what we’ve come to believe are standard size packaging for certain products. It also affects consumers who are used to one package of a product providing a serving for each person in their family, to now having to purchase 2 packages to have enough to go around. Personally, rather than buy a second package, my family has learned to cut back on amounts, so perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing when looking at it from a better health perspective.

Another observation I made, although not in reference to size of the package, was that our local supermarket stocked a well known cereal that I often purchase. The boxed cereal just beneath it on the shelf was the exact same box, weight and type of cereal, but all wording was in Spanish. It was noticeably cheaper than the box with the English wording. It must have caused uproar with consumers, because it was later gone from the shelves. Of course, they kept the English wording package with the higher cost on the shelves.

Shortening Toilet Paper

Household Products

The shenanigans going on with toilet paper is another pet peeve of mine. Varying with manufacturers, I’ve noted changes in width ¼ to ½ inch or so shorter, lesser number of sheets on a roll, reduced quality of paper, and some have even removed the cardboard roller from the center.

Some of the same issues have been noticed with certain paper towels. My first indication of the difference in paper towels came when I placed an order for supplies at my place of work. I’ve ordered the same amount of paper towels and same brand for years. Suddenly, with no other changes to affect it, our paper towel order was not lasting as long as it had before, which caused me to begin checking the reason why.

You may also note differences in number of trash bags to a box and a tad smaller bottle of shampoo or other personal products.

In years past, most over the counter medications in pill form had a bit of cotton at the top of the bottle. A few years ago, most of them stopped putting the cotton in the bottle. Today, you may find some over the counter medications have lessened the number of product in a bottle, but have added back the bit of cotton.

Conclusion and How Consumers are Affected

I have purposely not mentioned brand names in this article, due to the fact that “some”, not “all” brands have changed in this way. I’ll leave it to you to ferret out the information on supplies that you normally purchase. The above information is garnered strictly from items I purchase on a regular basis.

As mentioned above, with some products these changes may require recalculations in the amount used in recipes. It may cause your grocery bill to go up due to having to buy more packages of an item in order to provide meals for your family. With lesser amounts in the packages, it obviously will cause you to have to purchase items more often than you have in the past. All in all, it is designed to get deeper into your pocketbook and it will do its job unless you are a savvy consumer.

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    • Karen Ray profile image

      Karen Ray 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      And the list goes on - I had to add that my daughter purchased a block of cheese yesterday - same as we always get. It has been an 8 ounce package for many many years. Suddenly it is reduced to 7 ounces for the same price. The 8 ounce has disappeared from the shelves.