Friday, December 10, 2010

Fool me once shame on you! Fool me twice...hmmm....

You fool me once shame on you! You fool me twice...hmmm well, you just can't fool me again :)
Click HERE for a good laugh

Former monkey face president
 I was born and raised in Brazil and lived in Sao Paulo until 1998, I obviously experienced out of control inflation and several changes in currency that one could hardly keep track of prices.

An important tool during the rampant inflation years in Brazil

I remember my mother teaching me as a child to always grab the bread, cheese or can of condensed milk from the deep end of shelves because prices changed so often, employees at grocery stores didn't have time to change prices on all products, so they just passed the "PRICE GUN" on the products they could see in front of the shelves and moved on to be able to reprice the whole store before the next price increase, because prices changed daily, some times, twice in the same day, it was insanity, but for us, just another day at the grocery store, there was actually some excitement that I enjoyed in finding the products with the prices from previous days, that was what we knew as normal.
For example, bread was R$1,00 today, it was R$1,10 and if you could reach deep into the shelf you would find a loaf of bread for R$0,90...there weren't many products with bar codes on grocery items in the 80's and prices were just the little tags stuck on products like it's still seen today in some smaller grocery stores around the US.
I remember Grocery Stores in Brazil being SUPER PACKED with people on pay days, because everyone wanted to buy their groceries on the day they had the money in their hands, because the inflation was at 80% a month or so at it's peak, that meant if you waited with money in the bank, at the end of a week you had an average of 25% less purchase power.
Long story short, I have always been an avid consumer, bargain hunter, very well informed and tuned in on a good almost gives me the excitement I felt as a child to find the better priced candy bar at the deep end of the shelf.
I am the type of guy who pays attention and compare size, quantity, weigth and above all the price versus quality value which is the most important.
The current economic crisis in the US is the worse since the great depression in the early 30's and regardless of the economic moment we live in today corporate executives are pressured to keep increasing sales year after year or if increasing sales is not possible they need to make sure profits and or revenue are UP at all costs.
That being said, these are some small items that have ticked me off during shopping this week and some creative ways CORPORATE AMERICA is finding to increase revenue and profits in a time of downward sales:

EXAMPLE 1- Scott Brand Toilet Paper (Sam's Club) :

I was almost tricked on this one, well, ok, temporarily tricked... :(
I always read on the package the total lenght of tissue, how many meters/feet of paper you get per roll, how many rolls, pretty simple right? make sure you are talking about 1 ply or double ply etc...ok, somewhat simple...but I didn't see this coming until I noticed this following scene, look at exhibit A:

Do you notice something MISSING? I kept staring at it, I knew something was off, I couldn't put my finger on it!!

If you said the "Toilet Paper Roll" is too narrow you guessed right!
I usually never did see the actual paper holder until Kimberly-Clark Marketing Executives pulled a fast one on me this month, CONGRATS, YOU GOT ME GOOD Kimberly-Clark!
Hope you make good use of the extra paper you saved you coffers!
I remember we still had an extra package at our guest bathroom downstairs, Bingo! I found an older package of rolls from a couple of months ago and was able to take some pictures shown below so you can see the difference for yourself.


I was officially fooled, but remember as GEORGE W. BUSH used to say, you fool me once...hmmmm, well, you just can't fool me again  :)
( I know I keep repeating myself on this one, I just love to remember that moronic moment in our recent presidential bloopers history! )

I am still fuming mad, because they had a new Scott product to distract me at the store this month, they had the new GREEN SCOTT tubeless Toilet paper, take a look HERE to understand what I am talking about, it was more expensive and had less paper, so I compared, got to my conclusions and bought my usual Scott tissue, NOT the GREEN friendly tubeless, but they succeeded to disguise the lesser width on my usual product.
This may sound like a silly waste of time, but, to me, it's a matter of principal, a CREATIVE way to increase profits in a time of downturn, no doubt, but Kimberly-Clark now has one angry well informed and very alert consumer on the hunt for a new brand of Toilet paper, after a mere 13 years of loyalty to their product.

The taller roll is from a couple of months ago, the shorter roll is the new smaller, for the same price, score for CREATIVITY, HUGE loss on the consumer loyalty department! 

OK! enough talk about Toilet paper, now after being fooled ONCE as Monkey face former President Bush once said, I learned my lesson and was strolling the stores like a freaking hawk I will tell you! end result, BAM, another outrage, same day, EXHIBIT B:

Two cans of Scrubbing Bubbles, same product, same store, same price, different month!

Besides the different designs in the cans we really wouldn't be able to tell the difference, principally if you buy one a month or two a part from the other.
Thank God for our guest bathroom, I got home and could compare last month's can of "Scrubbing Bubbles" and look what I found out:

They shrunk my freaking "Scrubbing Bubbles" and kept the same price, we went from 25oz. down to 22oz. 

To add insult to injury, I had this brief conversation with Gil about my proud findings:

ME: You won't believe what these bastards from large companies are doing to keep revenues rising while sales are down?
GIL: Let me guess! Product shrinkage as a way to increase prices!
ME: Yeah... how did you...    (Confused look on my face! )
GIL: It was on the local news last week! That's what you get for not watching the local news, see!
ME:  Face feeling hot, (I could feel my blood pressure raising at this moment...)
ME: Crap! I know, UGH!!! I hate watching the local news here, all they show is drunk teenagers who crashed their cars on a tree somewhere.
GIL: YES, This was on the local news last week, they are doing this with every product, they were showing the size shrinkage in everything from cookies to cleaning products!  
ME: You better start coming to the stores with me, it's harder and harder to be a savvy informed shopper nowadays, after all, two heads think better... ( Gil interrupts me at this point...)
GIL: Good try! You know I can't stand the crowds...the waiting in line, too boring, I'd rather pass another kidney stone!

Yes, Gil hates shopping that bad!
In my opinion, this should be a lesson to help us catch more "CREATIVE SOLUTIONS" Corporate America is finding to keep profits and revenue on the rise in a time of tough economic crisis...
American Expats living in Brazil, beware of some subtle changes on your way back home!

You snooze, you loose!!!


Sara and Nate said...

What's sad is that when the companies start making money again I doubt their products will return to normal. We are stuck with less for more.


Gil and Ray said...


You are right, it's a way companies are finding to raise prices without actually raising the prices...but giving you less for the same price, in Massachusetts and most of New England the stores are required to show the consumer the price per ounce/weight so it's harder for them to get away with it raising prices in this manner.
So, for the majority of the distracted people, nothing is happening...
Sad but truth, sign of the times!
I still wanna find a Toilet Paper brand that will actually cover the entire freaking holder ;)


Jim said...

This reminds me of a story Luiz tells from a marketing class he took in college (all those years ago...). They pointed out that toothpaste manufacturers made the exit of the tube larger and created adds with huge ropes of toothpaste on the brush to get consumers to use more product than necessary.

Good detective work Ray.

btw - can you pls send me an email (my address is on my blog) so I can send you a private communication? Thanks. I have a tax question.

Gil and Ray said...


Yes, marketing strategies are fascinating, it can be used in many different ways...

Stephanie said...

UGH, Im disgusted.

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie said...

Oh yeah, alkaseltzer doubled the sales of their product when they came out with an ad that drops two tablets into the glass cup instead of one.