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Welcome to our blog, where we comment on a wide variety of topics. Some of them relate to our line of work. Others are more far ranging.

More Adventures in Marketing

May 31, 2019

By Jim Rhodes

Today’s topic is Truth in Packaging.

Am I the only person who has noticed this?

Not too long ago, when shopping for groceries (something my wife allows me to do occasionally without adult supervision), I wandered down the breakfast cereal aisle and found a wide selection of package sizes, from “Economy Size” up to “Family Size,” “Extra Large” and “Giant Size.”  I detest price shopping, so operating under the premise that bigger means better I bought the largest box of Cheerios on the shelf and took it home.

The next morning, I opened the box, and what do you think I found?  Inside the box was a sealed wax-paper bag containing the cereal. The only catch is that only about two-thirds of the bag contained cereal. The rest was air.

Granted, I am reaching the age at which my memory cells may not be fully functional, but I seem to remember that in earlier years the cereal came right up to the top of the bag.

My wife discovered the same phenomenon when she opened the bag of potato chips I had purchased. It was only a little over 50 percent filled with chips. More air.

A few days later when buying toothpaste at the drug store, I found on the shelves about a half-dozen different size options for the same brand of toothpaste. I purchased the largest size. Having been conditioned by my experience with the groceries, I was not surprised when I opened it, and out slid a tube that was about half the size of the box.

Of course, this is not illegal, since in all cases the boxes are clearly labeled with the weight of the product inside, but it’s certainly deceptive. After all, how many consumers have the mental acuity to translate weight measures into volume measures in their heads?

So, my question is this.  As the box size grows larger, does the product-to-air ratio go up or down, or is it a constant?

I have my research mapped out.  I will buy several boxes of cereal in different sizes and create a spreadsheet matrix to calculate the ratio of weight of the contents to the volume of the package and the percentage of product and air inside each box. This should make it possible to determine the price per gram of contents, as well as how much extra I’m paying for the air.

I’ll let you know what I discover.

In the meantime – Caveat Emptor!