Thursday, December 01, 2011

Coffee Cans

Have you noticed the increasing use of these generic plastic containers? I think I first saw them holding coffee, then they seemed to proliferate…mustard, sugar, catsup, and some other things. Most of them seem to be the same size and shape. This is one initiative I like because the sturdy containers have a number of downstream uses for holding other stuff and they stack neatly.
However, there appears to be a dark side developing. State law where I live requires retailers to clearly post a unit price along with the item price. So, many of the little games these folks inevitably play with their pricing “strategies” are made somewhat more difficult for them, if you pay attention.
Since I buy coffee fairly frequently, I tend to recall prices AND quantities from one purchase to another. My favored coffee vendor is fully engaged, as are all the others, with slicing their product lines into a number of “varieties” of the same product. I think the game is not so much a reaction to consumer demand for more varieties, as it is a “strategy” to increase their footprint on retailers’ shelves.
The dark and brilliant bit of chicanery presents when you consider the contents of the container can be easily changed, requiring only the printing of a new label to show the amount contained. Over the years, we’ve seen the same game played with boxes, bags, cans, and bottles, even to the extent of the chip companies installing equipment to pump air into bags containing less and less chips. However, those products generally required new containers when contents changed, not just the simple matter of printing a new label. Using the same container for a variety of weights is really bright. Most of us don’t keep up with whether the damned thing contains 34 oz. or 32.5 oz.
Oh well…I’m blown out on this bit of trivia.


No comments: