Thursday, July 07, 2011

I'll pay you to sell me less...

The FT's John Kay inveighs against the deceptive business practice of offsetting a low headline price with price-gouging at the margins, as in hidden bank fees and $10 minibar beers.  The subject put me in mind of a recent dodge in US packaged foods: don't change the price, but downsize the package. Deceptive? Maybe. But after 30 years of supersizing it's probably a good thing from a health point of view.

Whole Foods lines up various blends of coffee, all the same price, but in 10, 11 and 12 ounce cans. From one perspective, that's the opposite of deceptive. There before your eyes, if you have eyes to see,  is the ascribed premium value of french roast.
More typical, more deceptive and more beneficial is the downsized individual portion bag of potato chips.

Now if only someone would offer ungargantuan ice cream portionsm  Current practice in the U.S.  is the opposite of deception  --  it's an old form of coercion run amok: serve twice as much, charge twice as much.

My wife and I order child sized cones or cups, and then we have to stop the kids who man these places from piling on 3 scoops at the lower price. The very concept of a small cone has been eradicated.

What about a new restaurant marketing ploy: right-size it!  Suppose you could order an ice cream cone or even a tortilla plate by the calorie load. A restaurant could have say three adult-sized portions of each meal, or at least of several popular meals. 

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