One way companies can drive profits is by giving consumers less for the same amount of money. More air and fewer snacks in a bag is one way that might look. Giving consumers less is called shrinkflation. We wondered if consumers notice and how they feel about it and asked them in this consumer study.
In the platform, we combined quantitative and qualitative questions in the study, and the platform neatly packaged the results in one dashboard.
On the quantitative side, we asked:
- Have you noticed shrinkflation in the products you buy?
On the qualitative side, we asked:
- Please tell us which products you have noticed practicing shrinkflation?
- How does it impact your purchase decision and perception of these brands?
- If you haven’t noticed shrinkflation how would you react if you would notice it?
Here’s a quick highlight reel of reactions:
The quant results
The majority of respondents – 81 percent – said they have noticed shrinkflation in the productions that they buy.
The qual results
Respondents recorded a quick asynchronous video message for the qual questions – selfie-style, directly from their phones.
The automatic sentiment analysis showed that 43 percent of all statements were on the neutral side, with 21 percent being positive and 36 percent being negative.
Unlike the quant questions – which are self-reported answers – this sentiment analysis pulls from what respondents said in their video responses.
The automatic theme explorer and Word Cloud gave me an idea of some of the most mentioned topics.
At times, I also use the Theme Builder and my knowledge of the subject to build and group themes for topics that I consider related.
I like to review the theme explorer first to get an idea of what trends I’m seeing. The Word Cloud is my next step. Then I want to skim through the automatic transcripts and each response.
Reviewing the consumer responses, it’s clear that knowledge about shrinkflation is typically based on perception. Do we really remember how much more filled that bag of chips was 10 or even 15 years ago? It’s how we remember it or we think the burger is smaller. But how much specifically? That’s hard to recall.
Consumers voiced their concerns about shrinkflation and where they have noticed it, including:
- Pizza sauce
- Chocolate bars
- Ice cream
- Charging boxes no longer included with smartphone purchases
- Pre-packaged snacks
- Serving sizes in restaurants
- Frozen products
- Toilet paper
What consumers say about shrinkflation
And shrinkflation can influence buying decisions as Reigan, 19, of Morrilton, explained. She noticed shrinkflation with a favorite pizza sauce product that she buys at the gas station.
“I still love the product and I still do buy it, but much less often now because of this issue,” she said.
Varsha, 32, of Gainesville, said she “would definitely want to switch to someone who provides good quantity, good quality, and a good price.”
Some noticed a difference in serving sizes at restaurants.
“Definitely at restaurants,” said Karmela, 45, of San Antonio. “I’ve noticed that the portions are much smaller, such as one Taco used to fill me up. Now I have to buy two or three because the amount is so small. Ice cream cones, there’s barely any ice cream in them. It’s frustrating because I’m paying more money and getting less food.”
A positive of shrinkflation is that prices aren’t going up, some consumers said.
Several other consumers mentioned they haven’t noticed it all.
“Honestly, I’ve not noticed it,” said Cameron, 32, of Clovis. “I wonder if it’s because they’re slowly shrinking the packaging to where I wouldn’t notice.”
Others said they’ve noticed it, but aren’t worried about it or it doesn’t affect them.
“I have noticed it with a couple of brands,” said Amy 38, of Tucson. “To be honest. It very rarely affects us because most of the food we buy is by the pound. Meat, vegetables, fruits, but I think we’ve noticed it in bags of chips.”
Where to next?
Our study focused on shrinkflation in general and the perception consumers have about it. A follow-up study each brand that has shrunk product sizes while keeping prices the same could do is to ask their own customers:
- How satisfied are you with the value you are receiving?
- What do you like best about our product the value you are receiving?