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Shrinkflation is too inflated

Jessica Li / The SPOKE

By Sowmya Krishna, Appmaster

A little while ago, I was looking to make a nice, warm grilled cheese sandwich, but when I opened up a new loaf of bread, I found that the slices were much smaller than I remember them being. No, this was not just my mind playing tricks on me — it all came down to a phenomenon known as shrinkflation.

Shrinkflation occurs when consumer goods shrink in size but stay at the same price. This is a common technique used by large corporations to increase profit on their products. But why don’t they simply raise their prices instead of decreasing their overall sizes?

Well, the answer is simple: Consumers are less likely to notice a decrease in volume than an increase in price. Increasing prices will likely drive consumers away from buying companies’ products, and corporations need to make sure that their consumers keep coming back for more while still raising their profits. So, companies turn to one of the least ethical solutions possible. They decrease the volume of their products without telling their consumers and hope that they won’t notice.

According to U.S Sen. Bob Casey from Pennsylvania, from 2019-2023, 10.3% of the measured price increase for household paper products and 9.8% of the measured price increase for snacks can be attributed to shrinkflation. This is outright deceptive because most brands are not transparent with consumers while making these volume changes.

Corporations tend to believe that shrinkflation is a necessary strategy in keeping their businesses alive. While it may work as a short-term solution, it could be very detrimental for their brand image later on. In the highly likely scenario where consumers eventually do notice the changes in product size, they may lose trust and satisfaction with those respective brands. This will inevitably lead companies to lose many of their loyal customers and cause their profits to plummet. Instead of wasting their efforts on greedy, short-term solutions, these corporations should focus on building strong and transparent relationships with their customers so that their brands can earn a trustworthy reputation.

Shrinkflation has become widely recognized recently as unethical, with President Joe Biden discussing the issue in his State of the Union speech, claiming that companies are “charging more and more for less and less.” He promoted a new bill known as the Shrinkflation Prevention Act in his speech, which Casey introduced to the House on Feb. 28. The bill aims to allow the government to establish shrinkflation as an unfair or deceptive practice.

It is important that we do not feed our money into unethical business practices such as shrinkflation. If we notice any changes in product volume without appropriate disclosure, we should go in search of different brands to avoid supporting dishonest businesses. As consumers, we have the power to control the market, so we must do our best to advocate for fair pricing and clear transparency in brands.

Sowmya Krishna can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Sowmya Krishna
Sowmya Krishna, Appmaster
Sowmya Krishna is a junior and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. She generally covers stories about current events and general news.