Grocery Shrink Ray Hits White Rain Shampoo, But It's Still "33% More"

Reader Luke noticed that the grocery shrink ray mercilessly zapped his bottle of White Rain shampoo– but mysteriously left the “33% more” label untouched. 33% more than… what exactly?

Luke says:

I’ve been using White Rain shampoo for years. It’s in every Walgreens in the nation, and it is the cheapest shampoo ever. It’s a dollar a bottle. It’s always been a dollar a bottle. Ask anyone. It’s also always been in a 590 mL bottle. But now they changed it to a 532 mL bottle. They still insist it’s “33% MORE” than something.

Well, it certainly isn’t 33% more than it used to be.

Comments

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  1. BuddhaLite says:

    For $1 can you really complain?

  2. I suspect that Tostitos brand tortilla chips have also been zapped. I noticed recently that a bag does not quite fill my salty snack hole anymore. Last time I went to the store, Target had both a 13 oz bag and 16 oz bag advertised at the same price, but no 16 oz bags left.

  3. snazz says:

    i love white rain!

  4. bobosgirl says:

    You can find the older size bottles at any Dollar Tree store- I’m so sick of the shrink ray. Why can’t we ever get what we’re paying for?

  5. muffinpan says:

    Thats really deceptive. How can they state 33% more and have it not mean anything. I guess I’ll be leaving 100% of it on the shelf.

  6. karmaghost says:

    @Bevill: Yes.

  7. bcsus83 says:

    33% more than the 12 oz bottle, silly. ;)

  8. PackerX says:

    @bobosgirl: You ARE getting what you’re paying for. The only way that would be a valid complaint is if the bottle said it contained X oz but actually had less.

    Look, the shrink ray is definitely sneaky and underhanded, but the businesses still have to make money. A lot of people act like they’re entitled to getting more while paying less and that’s just not how things work. It’s a free market. In the end, all that matters is the money changing hands. Put your money in someone else’s, but don’t act like you should be given everything with no consideration that ultimately you’re dealing with a business.

  9. Murph1908 says:

    I hate the shrink ray as much as anyone (except for maybe Ben himself).

    But the OP’s statement of “It’s a dollar a bottle. It’s always been a dollar a bottle” kinda makes the shrink ray argument silly in this case. Seems like it being $1 a bottle is the point in this case, and to keep this marketing position, the size had to be cut.

    This is different than the sneak ray.

    I’d bet if they raised the price to $1.10, someone else would have written in “It’s a dollar a bottle. It’s always been a dollar a bottle. They shoulda shrink-rayed it”

  10. Puck says:

    Chocolate Rain reference in 3… 2… 1…

  11. NightSteel says:

    Er.. these don’t look like they are the same product. The one on the left says ‘Extra Body’, and the one on the right looks like it says ‘Volumizing’ behind the inset zoom. I’ll take the submitters’ word that this is across the whole product line, but next time they should use the same product for comparison..

  12. chiieddy says:

    @bobosgirl: Here’s the thing. They can keep it the same size and raise the price or shrink it and keep the same price. Either way, you are getting what you pay for. Costs have increased with increased oil prices. That plastic bottle? Petroleum based. The cost to get it to you? Fuel costs are way up. Now, what’s really wrong here is the 33% more label. That’s just plain deceptive.

  13. @bobosgirl:
    Why can’t we ever get what we’re paying for?

    You always get what you pay for…sometimes it’s just less than you used to get for the same amount. It’s called inflation. The so-called Grocery Shrink Ray is a method companies use to protect their bottom line against inflation, rather than raising prices. It is used because the consumer is less likly to notice a change in amount of product vs. listed price. Companies are just as allowed to adjust the relative value of their product as you are to not purchase it.

    That said though, why the hell does it still have that “33% More” still on there?

  14. oyvader says:

    @johnarlington:
    I can happily go to my grave never having to hear the phrase “salty snack hole” ever again, thanks. :-)

  15. cjones27 says:

    @PackerX: No one is arguing against the free market, or that businesses sometimes have to make unpleasant (to the consumer) moves to meet the bottom line.

    What we are arguing against is the deceptive and misleading practice of the grocery shrink ray, especially in cases where labels or well-crafted new containers hide the decrease in product. I am fully aware that businesses need to raise prices. But instead of assuming we are idiots, or trying to cheat us, a simple price increase or a “Due to rising packaging costs, we have been forced to decrease the size of our product containers” would be lovely.

  16. steveliv says:

    products are getting smaller but i just might call shenanigans… those two bottles look so unlike each other. it seems to me the bottle on the left is one you would find in a grocery or at a wal-mart. the one on the right, which is smaller, seems to be one you would find in a discount store (like big lots, or dollar general) Were these two shampoo bottles purchased from the same store? Perhaps White Rain markets differently to those stores and provides a smaller quantity or less quality then one you would buy from wal-mart.

  17. dragonvpm says:

    yeah, I’m not happy about the shrink ray in general but I am curious, 33% more than what?

    If the bottles went down in size they really should either take the label off, or advertise “8% less!”

    There’s sneaky and then there’s just flat out lying and I think leaving that label on the packaging is a bit unethical.

  18. Gann says:

    It’s 33% more than something 75% it’s size, of course.

  19. VA_White says:

    white rain is great for washing your car

  20. MonkeyMonk says:

    I don’t have photographic evidence but I can guarantee that Cheez-it Crisps recently were shrunk from 9 oz. (it used to be in a bag) to 7.5 oz. (it’s now in a box).

    Same price . . . it just disappears faster and unfortunately no longer satisfies the cravings of my cheezy snack hole.

  21. mbz32190 says:

    FYI: Walgreens uses those “Wow! $1!” stickers, so it is likely the bottle on the right is from Walgreens.
    The Walgreens website still lists shampoo for 19.95 oz, but there are others slightly smaller (18 oz). I am guessing there is something different in the 2nd bottle (scent/ingredients) which explains the smaller size.

  22. bobpence says:

    @bcsus83: Nope, that would be 50% more. Obviously 18 oz is 33% more than the industry-standard 13.5338 oz / 399 ml bottle. (/sarc)

    Funny how the 19.95 is exactly 33% — not 1/3rd, 33% — more than a 15 oz bottle. No extra 1/20th of an oz for you!

  23. stevejust says:

    Before buying cheap shampoo, you might try reading the book Toxic Deception by John Fagin and Mariann Lavelle, and then check out the ingredients list on your shampoo. I don’t know about White Rain in particular, but that’s my general admonition on cheap shampoos for the day.

    Unfortunately, there’s a reason why they’re cheap, and if you think the EPA is protecting you from dangerous products on the grocery shelves… oh boy.

  24. AMetamorphosis says:

    As a coupon clipper who is not brand loyal, I have purchased White Rain, Suave, Soft Soap, etc … buying soley on weather or not I had a coupon that when doubled would make the price cheap.

    That being said, I’ve noticed all of the lower priced brands have switched bottle and lid shapes repeatedly over the past two years. I believe this is another deceptive method used to make the product sold smaller while appealing to our sense of it being “improved” since its in a fancier bottle.

    Anyone else notice this with packaging lately ?

  25. bobpence says:

    Correction, the 18 oz / 532 ml IS 33% exactly more than 400 ml. So they just changed from 33% more than 15 oz to 33% more than 400 oz.

  26. Brandon says:

    The real question is when inflation goes back down will the products do like the movie and go from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” to “Honey I Blew Up the Kid” My guess is no but will have to wait and see i guess…

  27. incognit000 says:

    @mbz32190:

    I submitted the photo, and what you can’t see due to the blow up is that both of them state the same thing: “Extra Body/Maximum Body.” The one on the right, the new package, has the same words, only with switched in placement. I get it because it’s the only shampoo in the “White Rain” brand that’s unscented. I’ve been using it for years, ever since I moved out of my parent’s house, and always bought it from Walgreens, and it’s always been 19.95 oz because that makes it 33% larger than standard shampoo bottles.

  28. shaman66 says:

    To those that argue “costs rise, get over it”.

    Its the deceptive nature that’s pissing people off. Any reasonable person understands that gas prices affect everything and there will be higher costs. Tricking someone into buying your product does not make long term customers.

  29. boss_lady says:

    @AMetamorphosis: Definitely. Here in Canada, Alberto shampoo just changed to a different bottle (shampoos, conditioners, styling products) and claims to have new ‘formulations’ on the commercials. The hairspray holds the same, smells the same as it ever did… I base this upon my love/hate relationship with the brand- the hairspray holds forever but smells like rotten fish covered with old-lady perfume.

  30. dangermike says:

    White Rain shampoo and La Bella gel (the green tub) are all I ever put in my hair and I always get compliments from barbers and stylists about how strong, healthy, and full by hair is when they cut it.

  31. @steveliv: Packaging redesigns are one of the commonest way to disguise the grocery shrink ray.
    It’s easier to dupe the customer by messing with their visual frame of reference.

  32. mac-phisto says:

    @stevejust: i don’t think the EPA regulates that stuff…

    anyway, it’s obviously 33% more than they wanted to give you in the first place, so quit yer bitchin!

  33. bohemian says:

    33% more sadness that your dollar doesn’t buy as much as it used to. Or 33% more sadness that your shampoo is trashing your hair.

  34. Average_Joe says:

    Making the bottle smaller to keep the price at 1 dollar is fine. But leaving 33% more on the bottle after reducing it’s size is extremely misleading. If not false advertising. It should be advertised as either 20% more or 9.8% less. Depending on if they want to keep using 15oz as a base.

  35. Nytmare says:

    @Murph1908: It’s not different at all, it’s exactly what the whole “shrink-ray” thing is about.

  36. TCameron says:

    I always preferred my rain to be transparent, but that’s just me. Perhaps it’s 33% more white?

  37. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @stevejust: Aren’t cosmetics and cleaners for the body covered by the FDA, not the EPA?

  38. Angryrider says:

    33% more dissatisfaction? Or more materials used in packaging?

  39. damitaimee says:

    There are two different sizes of this bottle. If you go to Walgreens or Target you typically find the bottle that is labeled 33% more. If you go somewhere like dollar tree, 99cent store, and those hole in the wall cheap stores, you find the one they are talking about, the one that contains 33% LESS. this is the ORIGINAL size bottle.

    i don’t remember the exact size of this smaller bottle but i know that it exists because on several occasions before the shrink ray i have bought it and thought, “wow this bottle sure seems small for my buck.” I noticed that this smaller bottle never has the 33% more label. It all depends on where you buy your shampoo.

  40. damitaimee says:

    my point being that the bottle is most likely STILL 33% more

  41. Infinity_8 says:

    I work in a grocery store and I’ve seen these new bottles for quite some time now. I did not realize though that the size was changed. It’s so funny. When working in a grocery store you notice so many new changes in packaging. I should be writing this all down, taking pics, and reporting it here.

  42. jjason82 says:

    I believe the 33% more refers to this bottle containing 33% more product than one of their smaller bottles.

  43. Shadowman615 says:

    In other news, I heard that Raisin Bran now purports 1.72 scoops in every box.

  44. JaguarChick says:

    The thing I keep wondering every time I see a shrink ray post is:
    Doesn’t it cost money to redesign and produce the new shrunk packaging??? and from there:
    How much are they actually going to profit from it once you factor in all the extrinsic costs? It will take the contents from nine shrunken bottles (58 mL per bottle x 9) to make one extra shrunken bottle. Last time I looked at white rain it was like 99 cents a bottle. There cannot be a heap of profit margin in it.

  45. MBZ321 says:

    Another mystery…on White Rain’s website, all shampoos are listed as being 15 oz…which I guess is their standard base size, and they sell larger bottles for Walgreens.

  46. chiggers says:

    This has Andy Rooney written all over it.

  47. @Shadowman615: nice

  48. PackerX says:

    @JaguarChick: I think the same thing every time. In fact, I thought about it extensively today upon reading this post. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

    It doesn’t cost as much as you might think. White Rain is owned by Huish Detergents [biz.yahoo.com] , a company that makes a number of products. They already have the bottle designers on the payroll. It may have a cost associated insomuch that the designer is working on that bottle instead of another bottle, but ultimately he’s getting paid either way. Prototyping costs are pretty negligible, especially when you consider it’s a $167M company. Even if it costs a total of $2,000 to get a prototype, that’s nothing and would just come out of budget assigned to R&D the previous year.

    The only thing that would really cost would be setup charges. Having new molds, dies, etc. made would cost tens-of-thousands of dollars. If there were machinery modifications involved as well, we’re now talking around $100k. But they’re using less plastic (I’m willing to bet the new bottles are ever-so-slightly thinner as well) and filling them with less shampoo. Their shipping costs are also reduced. It wouldn’t take long to recover those setup charges and that product line would be once again turning a profit in under a year.

  49. lingum says:

    @Puck:

    Beat me to it.

  50. Orv says:

    @W00dyW00d: For the products to get bigger we’d have to have deflation, which hasn’t happened since the Great Depression.

  51. failurate says:

    @JaguarChick: The company making the product rarely is the company making the package the product comes in. So for packaging companies, it’s their cost of business to design and sell new packages.
    For the company making the product/buying the package, it’s as simple as just picking one from a catalog (and setting up a whole bidding process and so on).

  52. thomas_callahan says:

    The real problem with the shrink ray is that it’s not just that you’re getting less stuff per $$, it’s also incredibly wasteful. The company may make more money without having to raise the price per package, but I have to buy more often, meaning more trips to the store, more transaction costs for the retail location (think credit card fees and cashier costs), and (my real beef here) more packaging. (Less product per container equals less product in relation to the amount of packaging — larger containers are always more efficient in this regard.) Plus, that last little bit of product you can’t get out of each package happens that much more often.

    Be honest, raise the price, don’t try and sneak it by hoping we won’t notice and wasting a bunch of resources at the same time!

  53. balthisar says:

    Finally! A real, honest, deceptive “grocery shrink ray” article! I can’t blame stupid consumers, say buyer beware, etc. This really, truly is deceiving!

  54. bobosgirl says:

    I’m sorry, when did I ask to get something for nothing? I understand I’m dealing with a business, but when they downsize containers, bottles, etc. and then jack up the price ( or downsize the container and jack up the price) they’re ripping off consumers- the people who keep them in business. You want to raise prices? Fine, then don’t downsize the regular container. That’s like a store advertising a B1G1F sale, and then the night before doubling the shelf prices on everything to still make a running profit ( Safeway does this with 18 packs of eggs- who pays $6.39 for an 18 pack of eggs?).
    I participate in a consumer panel for a major company- they send me pkgs. of products and I try them and then fill out an online survey or do the survey by phone. I noticed that one of the laundry products they sent me was 8 oz. less than normal, and when they asked me if I would purchase the product I said “nope.” The lady on the phone seemed surprised because I had just said it smelled great and seemed to work well. I told her I wasn’t going to pay the same or more for less product! After I explained that to her, she thanked me and said she was going to look for the “shrink ray” when she shops from now on.
    Honest, I’m just tired of being ripped off- everyone has the right to make a profit, but price gouging should be against the law.@PackerX:

  55. bobosgirl says:

    See my comment to Packer- prices go up all the time. I expect to yearly pay a little more for things- but shrink it AND raise the price? Criminal. @chiieddy:

  56. chiieddy says:

    @bobosgirl: They didn’t raise the price. It’s still a $1. Read the article. They shrunk the amount you get for $1.

  57. bobosgirl says:

    I read the article- maybe you should read more carefully. I was making a general statement about companies raising prices AND shrinking sizes, in repsonse to the 2 posters, NOT commenting on the shampoo.

  58. mferrari says:

    @johnarlington: same bag, less chips.
    kind of like the ones in vending machines, just half filled.