EXCLUSIVE: Consumers Wary of Shrinkflation

New YouGov research affirms consumer awareness of packaging, portion and pricing changes
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
(Source: YouGov Surveys: Serviced poll, Feb. 22-23)

As it turns out, not only do consumers notice that product sizes and portions are often getting smaller for the same cost, many are looking at competitive products for greater value. New research from global public opinion and data firm YouGov – shared with Progressive Grocer in an exclusive preview – shows that shrinkflation is hardly receding as an issue or as an influencing factor at the point of sale.

According to a new YouGov Surveys: Serviced poll conducted on Feb. 22 and 23, nearly three-quarters (73%) of consumers in the United States are concerned about shrinkflation. Most – 41% – are “very” concerned, and about a third are “fairly” concerned. Only 3% report that they are not at all concerned, underscoring consumers’ perception that they may be getting less for their money in today’s inflationary environment.

[Read more: "How to Win – and Win Back – Shoppers With Loyalty"]

As shoppers are increasingly keen on how products literally stack up against price and expectations, they discern some differences in affected product types. For example, YouGov’s survey revealed that 52% of consumers are noticing shrinkflation in snack products like chips and candies, followed by cereals, flours and pastas (46%) and cleaning products (34%). While shoppers are also seeing some smaller portions per package for items like bread, bakery products, beauty care items and ready-to-cook offerings, fewer are seeing related trends in fresh produce and pet foods.

Awareness is leading to changing behaviors, in many cases. According to YouGov’s findings, nearly half (46%) of all respondents said they are likely to buy store brand or private label products versus branded products over the next three months and 45% expect to switch to a different brand.

Behaviors in response to real and perceived shrinkflation are breaking down differently by demographic, the survey indicates. Older shoppers over the age of 55 are more likely to stop buying some products altogether, while younger consumers between 18 and 34 report that they tend to shift to buying products in bulk sizes instead of smaller packages.

YouGov researchers concluded the main takeaway from this recent poll is that shoppers are savvy and not shy about mixing up their brand loyalties in what’s become a tough environment for all players in the marketplace. "It is clear that combating shrinkflation is a major concern for the American shopper. What’s more, it’s a concern that may cause significant changes in consumer spending habits over the next few months at the very least,” the survey report stated.

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