Dial Hand Soap Bottle Grows Slightly Taller To Disguise Shrink Ray Attack

Todd reports that while the new Dial hand soap bottle has a sleek new design that is slightly taller and adds more sexy curves, it’s all a facade to distract us from how the product has been Shrink Rayed. The old bottle was 11.25 ounces, and the new is 9.375. Todd writes, “But perhaps the most audacious part of it is the fact that they shrunk the bottle, redesigned the shape and label ever so slightly, and slapped a “NEW!” label on it, thinking we would never notice.”

Of course it’s new! It’s a new, tinier bottle.

shrink.jpg

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  1. MonkeyMonk says:

    Better yet . . . but a few foaming hand soap dispensers and this single bottle will last you nearly a year. Yes, I make my own foaming hand soap at home.

  2. SkokieGuy says:

    How much is the savings a a couple of ounces of product?

    When you factor in the cost of a product redesign, focus groups, graphic artists, prototypes, changing packaging equipment, etc., etc., I wonder how shrink rays end up generating more profit.

    Maybe it’s not the cost of the content that generates the savings, but the reduction in the consumer’s buying cycle. The smaller container will be replaced more frequently.

    • P=mv says:

      The goal is to get more $ per ounce of product. That is one big way they increase profits.

    • minjche says:

      You’d be surprised how much savings come from just a small change. I work in a manufacturing facility (not Dial, but another consumer products company) as an intern, and even though our product is cheap and expendable, a small change per product ends up being worth big bucks.

    • Murph1908 says:

      The new size is 16% smaller than the old size. If people use the product at the same rate, they will now buy 16% more. I.E., they’ve just increased their sales by 16%.

      Don’t forget the benefits of those additional costs you listed as well. A new product design, fully researched and vetted, can increase sales as well, as it catches new eyes on the shelf. If it were a cost with no benefit, companies would never do redesigns. But you seen them frequently, so they must have an inherent benefit themselves.

      Unless you have a brand that is damaged by a new, poor design (See Tropicana).

      Dial didn’t change their logo or their brand here either. Just the shape of the bottle. Coke has changed the shape and size of its bottles hundreds of times over the past decades, but it doesn’t harm their brand. “New Coke” on the other hand…

      • crb042 says:

        math nitpick (with good reason, I think, because your math undersells the evilness here)

        you calculated it backwards. You’re not getting 16% less now, you *were* getting 20% more. So you need 20% more to make up the difference.

      • Gulliver says:

        Your math is way too fuzzy. They will not buy 16% more because of shrink. People will continue to buy the same volume they always have. If you shrunk my milk container to a quart and I use a gallon a week, it would not increase my usage.
        There is no mention of the pricing, so there can be no evidence placed on sales volume. As for it being a shock or trying to sneak it through, then why put the NEW sticker on it? Certainly that might get your attention to look at the bottle and decide of the value is still worth it to you.
        I prefer companies shrink the size of some products versus a price increase. Would you rather shell out $5 for something to last 8 weeks, or shell out $2 for something to last 3 weeks?
        Some of us do not need to buy the Costco sized tub of crap and are ok with that.

    • vastrightwing says:

      Also, in the quantities they produce, saving $0.01 (Not Verizon math) per unit can translate to millions of dollars of profit.

  3. P=mv says:

    It usually takes me a few years to notice changes like this. I buy one small dispenser and one refill jug every 3 or 4 years. I never would have even noticed this for another 2 years when I go get my next batch of hand soap.

  4. Etoiles says:

    I buy overpriced girly soap (Bath & Body Works) — it’s one of my acknowledged vices — and they recently also redesigned their bottles. I was really surprised to find that the old ones and the new ones are the same size; I thought for sure they’d take the opportunity to go all shrink-ray. Sad that it’s what I expect from companies these days.

    • pop top says:

      If you can find a B&BW outlet store in your area, definitely check that out. They have the exact same stuff as in the store, but for at least 50% off. I like going there after XMas because they have all the cool gift baskets for really cheap, and those are great things to stock up on for presents throughout the year, or for yourself. :) B&BW is probably one of the few companies that has a decent outlet store.

      • Etoiles says:

        I buy it online when they have huge sales, and look for extra codes from retailmenot. Last batch I got was, I think, 8 bottles for $21 including tax and shipping. ;)

        Still more extravagant than buying whatever’s on sale at CVS, but “nice soap” was one of the things I promised my adult self I’d have after some particularly shitty roommate experiences in my late teens and early 20s. ;)

  5. Dustbunny says:

    Speaking of hand soap…I just noticed Trader Joe’s bottles come with directions “Wet hands. Lather. Rinse.” OMG. Are there really that many morons around that we need to have directions on how to use liquid soap??

    • MonkeyMonk says:

      This might be one of the first instances I’ve read of a Trader Joe’s product having correct instructions. :)

      Just kidding. I love TJ’s but I’d estimate that about 1/2 their food products have seriously “off” cooking instructions. Are these things being translated from German?

      • Dustbunny says:

        I noticed that too, especially the cooking times for microwave & frozen foods. They’re either way too short or way too long!

    • mischlep says:

      If they added “Repeat.”, they could double the product usage and double their sales! ;-)

    • EarthAngel says:

      I’m sure there would be someone willing to sue because the instructions weren’t precise.

  6. Hoss says:

    There’s a marketing win. More stylish + less content + fatter bottom which is more waste = $$$

  7. minjche says:

    My money is that they reduced the size of the bottle in order to stay at the same price point.

    In today’s manufacturing environment, profit is not defined in the traditional sense. Price points for many products are “set in stone” such that consumers won’t want to pay any more for the same product. The cost of raw materials probably isn’t going down (I’m no authority on Dial’s supply chain) so Dial probably stood to lose more sales by increasing price than by decreasing the product size.

    Being an avid consumer but also an intern at a (different) consumer products company, I don’t really hold it against Dial for making the change. Businesses exist to make money.

    And true, they didn’t advertise the new packaging aside from that “New!” logo, but I think they stand to lose more sales by saying “Same price less product!”. Sure they may get some “respect” sales out of consumers who value honesty above the bottom line, but not much.

  8. RyGuy1152 says:

    We buy the big, 64 oz. refill jugs twice a year. Instead of buying a new, small bottle each time we run out, we just keep refilling it from the larger jug. The cost per oz. is smaller for the big jug.

  9. Jesse says:

    Has anyone done the math to find out whether just buying a ceramic soap dispenser and refilling them using those gigantic refill jugs is cheaper?

    • Rachacha says:

      Looking at Costco here is the breakdown:

      a 7.5 oz individual container costs $2.13 ($0.28/oz)
      a 128 oz (Gallon) jug of the same soap in the smaller container costs $13.99 ($0.11/oz)

      So using the large 1 gallon jugs and refilling the individual containers or using a ceramic soap dispenser is almost 1/3 the cost of purchasing individual containers.

  10. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    Unless you can confirm the price is the same for both bottles – this is NOT a story. Likely, they adjusted their price by some ridiculous penny amount.

    But still, unless you can prove pricing – there is no misdeed here.

  11. MaytagRepairman says:

    I think softsoap did something similar a few months ago.

  12. WhosOnFirst says:

    Are you really surprised? I found this same thing true with many products lately. Check out your tuna can and see.

  13. EagleFalconn says:

    I remember reading a study a while ago that indicated that humans are REALLY bad at predicting the circumference of things (glasses, jars, anything that looks like a cylinder). As such, humans are really bad at predicting volume…so height of a container becomes a proxy for volume.

    Seriously. To humans, a tall glass, no matter how skinny, will look like it contains more volume. Which is why this bar trick works: http://www.guitarsolos.com/videos-how-to-do-bar-tricks–%5BR-mwELNxi4o%5D.cfm

  14. syzygy says:

    These “shrink ray strikes again!” articles are asinine. A company can package its product in containers at any size it wishes. As long at they’re accurately reporting the volume of the container on the label, they are not obligated to make it clear that this new bottle may not be the same size as the one the consumer bought previously. It’s the consumer’s job to compare the products on a common per-unit basis (handily placed on store shelves, imagine that), and decide for themselves which is the better buy.

    Enough with these, already. They’re non-stories.

    • crb042 says:

      the story is how much these changes are obscured by things like altered package shape. No manufacturer calls attention to the change in size, only to the shape.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        Yes, but some of these stories -like this one – don’t show a price comparison

      • syzygy says:

        Right, and my comment is about how there’s nothing wrong with this practice. It’s all down to the consumer. If you don’t like that Dial didn’t print “Now with 17% less soap per bottle!” in huge letters on the container, buy someone else’s overpriced cleaning product.

        • RandomHookup says:

          True, consumers should notice, but sometimes they don’t. This alerts you as a consumer to pay attention to it.

    • minjche says:

      Yeah I’m with you. The volume is clearly labeled, the consumer is more than capable of reading the packaging.

      I wouldn’t expect a consumer to have to memorize the product sizes for all of the consumables they buy, but in the end the dollar vote is still in their hands.

    • evnmorlo says:

      If it’s the “consumer’s job” to notice, shouldn’t it also be the Consumerist’s?

  15. majortom1981 says:

    Dial yuck.. I use dr bronners. ORganic and last you a while .Dr bronners liquid soap lasted me 6 months to a year since a very small amount is needed.

    PS this was their small bottle. I bought a very big bottle that now i dont have to buy soap for liek 2 years. lol

  16. denros says:

    More Sexy Curves? Not being an “ass man” myself, I’m inclined to prefer the curves on the prior, top-heavy bottle.

  17. DanRydell says:

    Really? Do you think people only notice the dimension that is a few millimeters larger and not the dimension that is very noticeably smaller? They even have that fat thing sticking out the back so from the front the bottle looks even smaller than it otherwise would. I have no idea how you can look at that bottle and say it’s an attempt to make it look BIGGER than the old one.