Generation Z more fickle in its purchasing habits, how will brands hold up?

Infinite growth is impossible.

Easily duped CEOs, shareholders, and corporate cheerleaders like to pretend otherwise, but even literal parasites can only reproduce and feed so long before the host expires.

When big companies need to create the illusion of just making higher profits year after year with no natural declines allowed, they turn to two different strategies.

1: They are laying off staff in favor of hiring newbies or lower paid contractors.

2: They begin to commit adulteration.

Of course, now that class action lawsuits, consumer protection agencies, and mandatory recall notices are in effect, that second ‘sleight of hand’ doesn’t really work anymore with sawdust and rat meat. Now, much like in Kung Fu Panda, the secret ingredient is… nothing.

Who here has heard of “shinkflation”?

It’s not exactly a new term, Pippa Malgrem is credited with the currency a few years ago. We plebs tend to be “price sensitive,” with stagnant wages, rising rental prices, and general political quibbles. So when shareholders and top executives demand even more blood mined from the stones, they sometimes turn to discounting their products, while selling them for exactly the same price.

Look at this:

Don’t be distracted by the sexy bordeaux-burgundy hue of the new packaging. Look at him Numbers. It’s 6.75% worse pretzel mix, about a good bite the size of April.

The price has not changed, but the included amount has. And the new packaging preserves costs while creating an effective smokescreen, even for people who do try to shop consciously.

Gatorade’s new curved bottles do the exact same thing. On the surface, the Sport Grip is a new change, but when you look closer…

Gaterade Bottle Shrink

Yesou settle for less. 25% less in this case. Special thanks to Mouseprint.org for tracking these changes!

I got intense as usual at first, but technically it’s not always wrong.

Sometimes, in light of crop devastation or large swaths of blue-collar workers getting sick and dying (I hear the standards call these “supply chain issues”), companies have to make cuts to stay afloat.

And I think it’s way better to have a little less chocolate per bite in my independent market muffin than to have them reduce the one that puts smileys on the packing slips.

Nevertheless.

As in all relationships, transparency and understanding power dynamics are key.

A small business like Goddess Ghee can say to me “We have to change things to stay afloat but we still love you”, and I will always be 100% good. In fact they did.

shrink banner

This tasteful banner on their site, highly visible, not hidden at all, reads:

Dear Beloved Customers, We recently had to increase our prices due to the increased costs of all our ingredients and materials over the past 2 years. We hope you can continue to support us. We do our best to provide you with high quality dietary medication at an affordable price + pay us a living wage + do this job with the utmost integrity. And even with the price increase, we still have profit margins well below the industry standard. Thank you for your understanding.

Handsome!

Compare that to Doritos, a mega-conglomeration, world famous, making kajillions in profits, a kind of snack. Their shrinkage was discoveredrather than admitted, and their statement was:

“Inflation hits everyone”, a spokesperson says Quartz. “We pulled out a bit of the bag to be able to to give you the same price and you can continue enjoying your tokens.

The focus is on me. “Give”, as if no one was paying for anything. Not exactly what you want to hear from Pepsico’s manufacturing “solid gains”that’s it ?

On the other hand, the bloated monster that is Pepsico, which includes Frito Lay, which includes Doritos, is already too big to fail no matter how flopped their PR-engineered responses are.

Does your company have this kind of giant, unsinkable cushion? No?

Then you have banner copy to write.

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About Alex S. Crone

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