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what is shrinkflation

What Is Shrinkflation? Should Small Businesses Use It? 🐡


Recent reports indicate that an increasing number of companies are enhancing their profits and offsetting expenses by reducing the size of their products, resulting in consumers paying the same price for less quantity. This practice, known as shrinkflation, is often not openly disclosed to the public. In light of the challenging business environment, some smaller enterprises we have spoken to are contemplating whether adopting a similar approach of downsizing their products without altering the price will be effective for them. Their concern stems from the fear that raising prices could lead to customer dissatisfaction.


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The problem is that shrinkflation poses potential negative consequences for businesses. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) classifies it as a price increase. Additionally, some consumer activists view it as a deceptive method to raise average unit prices. Hence, shrinkflation might not be a favourable choice.


In this article, we will discuss the current trends of companies adopting the pricing and product size approach known as shrinkflation. Following that, we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of applying shrinkflation within small businesses. Additionally, we will outline the critical considerations that business owners must ponder before incorporating this strategy. We argue that overlooking customer value, market dynamics, financial feasibility, and consumer laws could lead to detrimental outcomes when implementing shrinkflation.


At Value Culture, we believe that small businesses can enhance their business decisions by placing a stronger focus on pricing and product sizing. By the end, you will gain insights into whether shrinkflation presents the optimal solution to address the challenges confronted by small businesses.


What Is Shrinkflation As A Product And Pricing Strategy


Shrinkflation is a term used to describe a marketing strategy employed by companies where they reduce the size or quantity of a product while keeping its price the same. In other words, it refers to the practice of decreasing the content or portion of a product without explicitly lowering the price, effectively giving consumers less for the same amount of money. This tactic is often used as a way for businesses to maintain profit margins and offset rising production or raw material costs without directly increasing the product’s price. 


SunRice, the consumer brand of one of the world’s largest rice firms, Ricegrowers, recently decreased the contents of its Mini Bites by 25% while maintaining the same retail price. Another example is the 500g jars of Cottee’s jams, which the American multinational Kraft Heinz owns, was recently replaced in several stores with 375g counterparts, signifying a 25% reduction in size. The shelf price, on the other hand, declined only by less than 7%.


For certain companies, shrinkflation has proven to be an effective strategy for boosting their profits. By reducing the size or quantity of their products while maintaining the same price, these businesses can offset various cost pressures and protect their profit margins. This approach enables them to adapt to changes in the market and cope with rising production expenses, transportation costs, or raw material prices without directly impacting consumers’ perceived costs.


The success of shrinkflation in some companies has piqued the interest of small businesses, leading them to wonder if it could also work for them.


Small businesses often find themselves more vulnerable to economic challenges, such as inflation, rising labour costs, increasing expenses for raw materials, and other operational overheads. As these financial pressures mount, small enterprises are constantly seeking innovative methods to sustain profitability and competitiveness in the market.


However, it is important for small businesses to approach shrinkflation cautiously. While it may deliver short-term gains in profitability, there are potential risks that demand careful consideration. Let us discuss the upsides and downsides of shrinkflation for small businesses.


What Is Shrinkflation And How It Impacts Consumers


“What is shrinkflation?” is a pertinent question for consumers navigating the marketplace. Shrinkflation, a subtle pricing tactic employed by businesses, involves reducing the size or quantity of a product while maintaining its price. This practice has tangible effects on consumers and their purchasing power.


As consumers encounter shrinkflation, they may observe seemingly unchanged prices for familiar products, only to realise that the quantity has diminished. Consider a scenario where a standard bag of coffee now contains fewer coffee beans, yet the price remains constant. This adjustment, while inconspicuous, directly affects consumers by diminishing the overall value they receive for their money.


The impact on consumers is twofold. First, there is a reduction in the quantity of goods purchased without a corresponding decrease in price. This can lead to a sense of dissatisfaction as individuals feel they are paying the same amount for less. Second, consumers may experience a shift in their buying habits as they seek alternatives or reconsider brand loyalty in response to perceived decreases in value.


In essence, shrinkflation places consumers in a challenging position, requiring them to be vigilant in evaluating product sizes and prices. While businesses may strategically implement shrinkflation to navigate economic challenges, consumers must adapt to these changes and make informed decisions about their purchases. Understanding what is shrinkflation empowers consumers to be discerning shoppers, cognizant of the subtle adjustments made by businesses in response to economic pressures.


Discussion On What Are The Effects Of Shrinkflation On A Small Business During Inflation


Let us discuss the good and bad sides of shrinkflation for a small business. We will look at how it works and how it could affect your business. Also, we will check out the important factors to consider before deciding if shrinkflation is right for your small business. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision on whether shrinkflation is a suitable strategy for you.


what is shrinkflation


What are the examples of the advantages of shrinkflation in small businesses?


One of the main advantages of implementing shrinkflation in a small business is cost reduction. By decreasing the size or quantity of a product while maintaining the same price, the business can offset rising production expenses. This cost-saving measure allows the company to remain competitive in the market and safeguard profitability without significantly impacting customers’ wallets.


Shrinkflation can also provide a competitive advantage to small businesses facing stiff competition. When the market experiences economic challenges or cost fluctuations, employing this strategy can help the business maintain its pricing position while still adjusting to internal financial constraints. This advantage is particularly valuable when competing against larger competitors with greater resources.


Compared to outright price increases, customers may be more accepting of shrinkflation. Since the price remains the same, the perceived change may be less noticeable to consumers. This subtlety can help businesses avoid potential customer backlash, maintaining positive customer relations and loyalty.


What are the examples of the disadvantages of shrinkflation in small businesses?


Implementing shrinkflation may lead to negative customer perceptions, as consumers might feel deceived or manipulated by the reduction in product size while keeping the price constant. This lack of transparency can erode trust in the brand, resulting in decreased customer loyalty and potential shifts to competitors.


Shrinkflation can negatively impact a small business’ brand reputation, especially if customers perceive the changes as an attempt to maximise profits without considering their needs. Such a perception can tarnish the company’s image and may be challenging to rectify once trust is lost.


While shrinkflation can provide short-term cost savings, it may not always be a sustainable strategy for maintaining a competitive edge. Relying solely on size reductions might not address fundamental issues affecting the business’ competitiveness, and competitors may find alternative ways to offer value to customers.


What factors should small businesses consider before deciding whether to implement shrinkflation?


By thoroughly evaluating the following factors, small businesses can make an informed decision that aligns with their business goals and sustains long-term success.


1. Customer Acceptance


Small businesses should carefully assess how their customers are likely to react to shrinkflation. Understanding customer preferences, buying behaviour, and sensitivity to changes in product size is crucial. If the target market is highly discerning and values transparency, implementing shrinkflation might lead to negative perceptions and decreased customer loyalty. On the other hand, if customers are more price-conscious and less attentive to product size changes, shrinkflation may be more readily accepted.


2. Industry Trends


Analysing the competitive landscape is vital before implementing shrinkflation. Understanding how competitors have handled similar economic challenges or pricing strategies can provide valuable insights. If other businesses in the industry have successfully used shrinkflation without significant negative consequences, it might be a more feasible option. Conversely, if competitors have faced customer backlash or reputational damage, caution is warranted.


3. Financial Viability


Small businesses must conduct a thorough financial analysis to determine whether shrinkflation will genuinely address their cost pressures and contribute to long-term profitability. Calculating the potential savings from size reductions and comparing them to other cost-saving measures will help determine if shrinkflation is a sustainable solution. It is crucial to strike a balance between cost management and maintaining product value to ensure the business’ financial stability.


4. Consumer Laws


Shrinkflation involves reducing the size or quantity of a product while maintaining the price, which can potentially be seen as a form of misleading consumers. Consumer protection laws require businesses to provide transparent and accurate information about their products. Failing to comply with these laws could lead to legal repercussions, fines, or damage to the brand. Therefore, it is essential for small businesses to ensure that their pricing strategies are compliant with consumer laws and maintain trust and credibility with their customer base.


What Is The Right Way To Manage Shrinkflation Strategy In A Small Business


Navigating the intricacies of shrinkflation is vital for small businesses aiming to implement a successful pricing strategy. Shrinkflation, the subtle reduction in product size while maintaining prices, demands a thoughtful approach.


Firstly, transparency is key. Clearly communicate changes to customers. For instance, if reducing the size of a product, accompany it with a detailed explanation of the decision. This fosters trust and helps customers understand the reasoning behind adjustments.


Consideration of consumer perception is paramount. Gauge how alterations may impact your brand image. Imagine a bakery reducing the size of its signature cake. To maintain customer loyalty, the business must ensure that the quality and taste remain unchanged, providing continued value despite the size adjustment.


Striking a balance between cost management and customer satisfaction is crucial. Implementing shrinkflation without jeopardising perceived value requires meticulous planning. Transitioning seamlessly can be achieved by incorporating gradual changes over time, minimising the shock to consumers.


Additionally, monitor market trends and competitor practices. Stay informed about industry shifts to make informed decisions. For example, if competitors are adopting shrinkflation strategies, evaluate the market’s response and adjust your approach accordingly.


Regularly reassess your pricing strategy. In a dynamic market, staying adaptable is essential. Periodically review costs, consumer sentiment, and overall economic conditions to ensure your approach aligns with the ever-changing business landscape.


In conclusion, managing shrinkflation in a small business demands a strategic, customer-centric approach. By prioritising transparency, consumer perception, and adaptability, businesses can navigate the challenges posed by shrinkflation while maintaining a strong rapport with their customer base.


Implications Of Using Shrinkflation In A Pack Price Architecture Strategy


It is crucial for a small business to be cautious with its pricing and product sizes because these elements directly influence customer perception, brand reputation, and long-term success. Setting the right prices ensures that the business remains competitive in the market while still achieving profitability. Additionally, the size of products can significantly impact customer satisfaction and perceived value.


Implementing pricing strategies, such as shrinkflation, without considering customer acceptance and market dynamics can lead to negative reactions, erode customer trust, and damage the business’ brand reputation. A misstep in pricing and product sizes may result in a loss of customer loyalty and market share, making it imperative for small businesses to thoroughly analyse these factors to maintain positive customer relationships and sustainable growth.


Small- and medium-sized firm employees frequently have their hands full of workloads. But, our findings show that with the right set-up and pricing plans in place, incremental earnings gains can begin to occur in less than 12 weeks. After 6 months, your teams can capture at least 1.0-3.25% more margin using better price management processes. After 9-12 months, businesses often generate between 7-11% additional margin each year as they identify more complex and previously unrealised opportunities, efficiencies, and risks.


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Bottom Line


The implementation of shrinkflation in a small business requires careful consideration of several essential factors to ensure its success and mitigate potential risks. While shrinkflation can offer advantages such as cost reduction and competitive positioning, businesses must be mindful of its potential detrimental effects on customer perception, brand reputation, and long-term profitability. By evaluating customer acceptance, conducting competitor analysis, assessing financial viability, and reviewing consumer laws, small businesses can make informed decisions regarding the adoption of shrinkflation as a pricing strategy.


Transparency and effective communication with customers play a vital role in maintaining trust and sustaining positive relationships. Ultimately, striking the right balance between cost management and customer satisfaction will pave the way for small businesses to thrive in an ever-changing and competitive market landscape. By carefully navigating these considerations, small businesses can make prudent choices that align with their goals and values, ensuring a prosperous and sustainable future.


For a comprehensive view of ensuring the continuous growth of your business, Download a complimentary brochure on How To Drive Pricing Strategy To Accelerate Sales & EBIT Growth.


Are you a small or medium-sized business in need of help aligning your pricing strategy, people and operations to deliver an immediate impact on profit?

If so, please call (+61) 2 8607 7001.

You can also email us at if you have any further questions.


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