Grocery Shrink Ray Hits Dawn Soap

The grocery shrink ray continues firing unabated, this time scoring a direct hit on Dawn soap. Reader Courtney reports that Dawn containers, once a proud 740 ml, have now shrunk to a mere 650 ml—a loss of 90 ml of bleach-alternative cleanliness!

Even worse, the new containers are elongated, giving consumers the false impression that they are receiving more soap. It goes without saying that the price remains the same. Very dirty, Dawn.

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  1. laserjobs says:

    Bought some groceries today and noticed the odd sizing on the packages. For example orange juice 59Oz and Tortilla Chips 14Oz.

  2. katra says:

    Are these things slow day posts?

    Why not make one ‘gosh the economy sucks and manufacturers are getting creative to keep their profits up/stay in business’ post, repeat it every other day and be done with it?

  3. bohemian says:

    I love how they restyle the packages to make it look bigger.

  4. Hawk07 says:

    Lies! Lies!

    The one on the left looks bigger.

  5. tedyc03 says:

    At least it’s not “new and improved!”

  6. BuzzDar says:

    this is happening to just about everything inside of the grocery stores. Sales reps are blaming this on high fuel costs. They are saying either make it smaller or raise rates beyond what you can afford.

  7. fleshtone says:

    i’m not seeing the big infraction. should they buy airtime, or dedicate some packaging real estate, to make sure we all understand what’s going on? there are serious and evil things to indict proctor and gamble on, but this might not be one of them.

  8. katra says:

    @BuzzDar: It’s not necessarily ‘raise rates beyond what you can afford’, as much as marketing thinking people would react better to getting a little less than paying a little more. Generally, they’re right.

    (Do people think, with their every expense going up, that companies were somehow immune?)

  9. ryan_h says:

    hey, in the long run, this gives americans a chance to eat less! portion restrictions all around!

  10. superlayne says:

    @ryan_h: Eat less soap?

  11. jpx72x says:

    I don’t get downsizing with liquid soap. Couldn’t they just add a little more water to the mix?

  12. humphrmi says:

    @jpx72x: Risky. They can hide the smaller size in that new package that looks bigger. But if people notice a decline in quality, they’ll stop buying it no matter what size it is.

  13. MBZ321 says:

    Can’t we just end all of this “shrinking” with this? If a company does not lower the quantity, the price will go up, and customers will buy an alternative (either a store brand/from another company). It is sneaky, but there aren’t very many options a company has when their costs go up.

  14. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Just add some water to make up for the difference. ;)

  15. DH405 says:

    @jpx72x: A large cause of the increase in cost is transportation. Adding water adds weight.

  16. After reading about the microfiber cloths on here the other day, I think I’ve had it with chemical cleaners anyway.

  17. FeedFaceCoffee says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: Maybe they already added enough water….

  18. lastfm says:

    What’s “PLUS” about the new size?

  19. basket548 says:

    @SMSDHubbard:
    The water replaces the soap.

    @lastfm:
    Nothing. The word PLUS replaces the smaller word WITH.

  20. illflux says:

    Who the hell in english-speaking countries takes a side-by-side comparison photo with the “after” object on the left?

    …well, this person, I guess, but it seems back-assward to me.

  21. @lastfm: For all we know, the “Plus” could be that it’s more concentrated to save on shipping costs. As someone who buys 3x laundry detergent and loves the tiny bottle, I’m all for it. Likewise, I’m anti-adding more water, jpx72x.

    But who knows? I’m with the “raise prices or shrink sizes, doesn’t make any difference to me” crowd.

  22. Jackasimov says:

    And here I thought I was just getting bigger!

    It is fcking sneaky though. I fully understand the need to stay competitive but I think they should have to disclose changes in volume, etc. It’s not fair to make us have to keep a freakin’ journal just to be able to judge these changes.

    What if gas cost $4 per unit and every time you went to fuel-up you kept getting just a little bit less for your $4. Not quite fair even if they were obligated to disclose how many milliliters per unit you were purchasing.

    I still have this feeling that since all detergents started to make “ultra’s” they’ve been gradually going back to their old formulas. I remember when Dawn came out with its Ultra, it was awesome and you hardly had to use any at all to get your dishes clean. Now, it seems like it’s back to the way it used to be and it’s still called Ultra.

  23. @SMSDHubbard: A large cause of the increase in cost is transportation. Adding water adds weight.
    @basket548: The water replaces the soap.

    I think SMSDHubbard means that water is more dense more than soap. I don’t know if that’s true, but water is more dense than many oils so it sounds reasonable to me.

  24. zingbot says:

    I’m not sure why this is such a big deal. Companies are sometimes forced to take actions in tough times that make us pay more for less.

    Use less soap in response. Or mix it with water. Or switch to a different soap. You have a choice.

  25. Deivion says:

    From the picture, it looks like they converted a tall slim container to a shorter wider one. Dawn thinks it will trick us…guess it doesnt work on those who actually looks at the label.

  26. balthisar says:

    @Jackasimov: They do disclose it. It’s right on the friggin’ bottle!

  27. HawkWolf says:

    I don’t understand how selling less product for the same price is ‘better’ than ‘raising rates beyond what you can afford’. If a bottle of something is 750ml and costs 4 bucks, and then they shrink it to 650ml for 4 bucks… how is that different from raising the price of the 750 to 4.something? it’s not like you ‘can’t afford’ the bigger size. it’s bigger, you’ll just buy it LESS OFTEN.

  28. HawkWolf says:

    I guess a better example is… imagine that to keep gas under 4 dollars a gallon, they started selling less gas per unit, so you’d suddenly be paying for .75 gal. it’s not like you couldn’t afford gas at 4.20 a gallon or whatever… I mean you need the same amount of gas!

  29. markrubi says:

    @Michael Belisle:

    Water does weigh slightly more than regular Dawn dish soap. tap water is about 8 lbs per gallon. So if you have a gallon of Dawn it is around 7.7 lbs per gallon.

  30. Well it’ll only look bigger if you just look at how tall it is, but let’s just go ahead and ignore how wide the bottle is . If you put 2 and 2 together you’ll know that it’s taller, yet thinner. Also it says it’s more concentrated, meaning you wouldn’t have to use as much as you would normally use, I’ve seen it plenty of times with laundry detergent (i think tide is the one), it says more concentrated and the container’s smaller.

  31. @HawkWolf: @Jackasimov: Soap is not a commodity like gas. I don’t think they’re comparable: you buy a quantity of Dawn (here it was 0.75 l, now it’s 0.64 l) at a fixed price. That price or quantity changes every few years, not intra-daily like gas.

    However, some stations are starting to sell gas by the half-gallon (albeit because of technical restrictions rather than psychological reasoning).

  32. BlackFlag55 says:

    Trojan hasn’t gone down this road, have they?

  33. ShortBus says:

    @Michael Belisle: Soap ought to be a commodity, like many other basic products that have been spun out of control by marketers. Take shampoo, for instance. The *vast* majority of product development goes into tweaking the scent, appearance, and “feel” of the product. How well they actually clean your hair is practically irrelevant anymore. Not that it really matters since they all clean equally as well.

    For example, the more a shampoo products suds, the less efficient it is at cleaning. But consumers believe that more suds = more cleaning, so that’s why your liquid soap suds. /rant

  34. t325 says:

    With all the money they need to spend to manufacture new bottles and reconfigure all of their equipment on the assembly line when they change size, you’d think it would just be cheaper to keep the bottles at the same size

  35. @ShortBus: I think I used commodity incorrectly when I said gas is a commodity. I meant to say that there isn’t just one commodity (like crude oil or milk) that goes into making soap. So the price of the finished product is far insulated from market swings. I’m not sure there’s any reason that should change.

    But what do I know? I’m just an armchair economist.

  36. rubberkeyhole says:

    @illflux: sorry, that would be me.

    if you are worried about which bottle on the picture is “before” and which one is “after,” you might have to reassess your priorities.

  37. PoliticalScapegoat says:

    So when the gas companies are finally busted for price manipulation and gasoline becomes less than $2 a gallon again, do I get my beloved 740 ml bottle back, or does the 650 ml bottle get cheaper?

  38. TangDrinker says:

    Check out Big Lots or another close-out store. I was there last night picking up a cheap trash can for yard waste and saw lots of real cleaning products there very cheap. They had a bunch of Method brand cleaner, dish soap, and laundry detergent. Your larger sizes may have ended up at the close out stores for half the normal price. It’s not all “Tydes” and “Kaskade” – they had the real stuff.

  39. Rajio says:

    I don’t get the problem here. Its not like the smaller one says ‘new and improved’ or something. Doesn’t seem misleading whatsoever. “bottle of soap” is hardly a standard unit of measure.

  40. hellinmyeyes says:

    Wow, there’s a lot of blame-the-consumer this morning. You guys should get some caffeine or something. The point is that you’ve been buying the same product for ages at the same size and same price, and, instead of receiving the same product and the same size at a higher price, now you’re forced to buy it more frequently at a smaller size. You buy this product and use it at a somewhat fixed pace since you follow whatever cleaning/cooking routine you have, and you expect this sort of thing to be regular. Sure, the companies CAN do this, but, as a loyal customer, you shouldn’t have to cope with this sort of change, things getting smaller.

  41. Angryrider says:

    @laserjobs: According to Tropicana, US standard system rules do not apply here. 2 Quarts DO NOT A HALF GALLON MAKE. 64oz does.
    Only the illiterate would be tricked into thinking a differently designed container with lower capacity would hold more.

  42. Lambasted says:

    @MBZ321: Everything on Consumerist doesn’t have to be a megaton issue for it to be of consumer interest.

    I much prefer these types of posts that alert consumers to a product change than the posts from whiny victims-in-waiting. The ones who must spend their lives on the lookout for a situation to fall prey to so they can complain about it instead of solving the problem themselves.

  43. EBounding says:

    They’re not just shrinking packages just to save on the product costs. They’re also saving on the cost of the package (the resin to make the plastic originates from oil). Also, having smaller packages can make for more shelf space at the store since their competitors will be on the same shelf.

    For those blaming the company, what SHOULD they have done besides not try to be profitable? Are they expected to post an apology on each bottle explaining why it’s smaller? There’s no missing information anywhere, so the lesson is to always be a smart shopper and make your choices accordingly.

  44. EBounding says:

    …With that said though, I think stories like this are good. They keep everyone aware that this is happening. I just don’t think it’s fair to call it slimy or evil.

  45. Bruiser_Bradley says:

    “the lesson is to always be a smart shopper”

    By reading the consumerist, among other things.

  46. VA_White says:

    @bohemian: Yes, the smaller bottle is nice and wide to make it look like there’s tons more product inside. Assholes.

  47. VA_White says:

    Oh, it just illustrates that you should always shop with a calculator and check unit price on the items you’re buying.

  48. sgodun says:

    I’m curious, Consumerist.

    It’s pretty much a given that the state of today’s economy has driven up the prices of virtually everything, especially things that contain petroleum products (which includes everything in a plastic container).

    That being the case, companies have two options if they want to stay in the for-profit business market.

    Option #1 is to maintain the size of a given product but charge more money for it. This has the benefit of being “more honest” according to Consumerist propaganda, but it also drives a spike into many people’s already-stretched budgets. If half of the products you buy were to have their prices increased by a few percentage points, that adds up to quite a chunk of change at the register.

    Option #2 is to reduce the size of a given product while maintaining the price. This has the benefit of maintaining a consumer’s budget at the cash register, but (in Consumerist’s eyes) makes them “more evil” for “deceiving” people.

    So, in the collective consciousness of Consumerist, which is worse? Personally, I’d much rather have a bunch of “shrink-rayed” products than have to spend another $20 at the register. Most of the things that Consumerist posts about are easily worked around; use your Dawn soap until it’s about an inch low, then top it off with water. You’ll never know that the soap is more dilute (especially with Dawn; that stuff lasts forever) and you’ll get the same value as before.

  49. mike says:

    @katra, et others: The problem here is that the packaging isn’t clear when the product changes. Yes, the economy sucks and gas required a second mortgage and a co-signer to purchase. But this doesn’t excuse manufacturers from sneaking product changes without notifying the consumer.

    @sgodun: I’m okay with shrinked products. Just be honest about it. By making it look bigger or hiding the fact, it’s dishonest at the least.

  50. backbroken says:

    The solution is for stores to start displaying the cost per unit as prominently as they display the item’s price.

    I won’t hold my breath for that to happen.

  51. jpx72x says:

    @SMSDHubbard: Of all the people who replied, this is the best answer. Thank you.

  52. hi says:

    They were doing this stuff (shrinking items and charging either the same or more in some cases) before the economy was bad and before gas prices were out-of-control. It’s standard practice now.

  53. failurate says:

    @rubberkeyhole: I like how the picture worked, with the eye tricking higher set print bottle looking bigger but being smaller. Required a double take, to verify the numbers.

  54. I buy every non-perishable good that I can at Costco. Has anyone noticed a shrinkage of shopping-club-sized items?

  55. e.varden says:

    @backbroken:

    Price per unit: displayed here in Canada @ A&P/Dominion stores….

    Excellent for comparison shopping!

  56. backbroken says:

    @e.varden: That’s Loony!

  57. lastfm says:

    @backbroken: Already done here at HEB. Price per ounce listed for every applicable product on our shelves. Others still don’t?

  58. BoniMaroni says:

    @sgodun:
    Maybe I’m missing something here. If you were paying say $5.00 for 25FL oz. and now you are paying $5.00 for 22FL oz aren’t we still really paying more? Seems to me that they both are price increases just different ways to go about it. Either way you are paying more for the liquid product you receive.

    Not all that great at math but I think using my “$5.00″ price we would be paying $0.20/oz for the original and now we would be paying $0.23/oz. How then is this not paying more?

  59. Anonymous says:

    Does anybody know if they maintain the same UPC number for the new package?
    It means the bar code number.

    thanks