How 'Shrinkflation' Is Affecting Grocery Shoppers

Morning Consult found a majority of U.S. adults have expressed concern
Emily Crowe
Multimedia Editor
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Shrinkflation is causing U.S. shoppers across age groups to rethink their grocery purchases.

As inflation increases, products are understandably shrinking in size, weight or quantity as prices remain the same or even increase. The phenomenon, dubbed “shrinkflation,” is particularly prevalent in the grocery category, according to global intelligence company Morning Consult, and 64% of U.S. adults are worried about it. 

Morning Consult also found that 79% of U.S. adults said in August that they often or sometimes made an effort to save money while grocery shopping, making shrinkflation even more frustrating for consumers during this time. Younger generations, however, report that they have heard less about the concept of shrinkflation, making their overall concern slightly lower than older shoppers.

[Read more: "Rising Prices Have 3/4ths of Americans Changing Grocery Buying Habits"]

“If brands were hoping shrinkflation would fly under consumers’ radars, we have bad news: Only 25% of U.S. adults said they hadn’t noticed shrinkflation in any grocery categories,” wrote Morning Consult’s Emily Moquin.

For consumers, snacks are the category where they most often see the effects of shrinkflation. The product categories most often purchased by each age demographic are where those people most see shrinkflation’s effects –  including Millennials and Gen Xers noticing it in produce and meat, and Baby Boomers seeing it more in pantry items.

Morning Consult found that when faced with shrinkflation, 48% of shoppers opted to buy a different brand, with 49% saying they instead chose a generic brand. According to Moquin, that should be a concern for manufacturers and retailers since it can translate to lost sales.

“Repeat purchases are a big concern as well, with 3 in 10 adults saying they stopped purchasing from specific brands when they noticed shrinkflation,” Moquin wrote. “This loss of loyalty might be hard for brands to recover, as our most recent research shows that while food & beverage as a category is highly trusted, it’s also highly substitutable. Consumers named food & beverage first among the industries where they have switched brands when companies lost their trust.”

Only 19% of shoppers who noticed shrinkflation took no action to combat it. As concern grows, however, that percentage could go up.

“[B]rands need to be paying extremely close attention to consumer sensitivity to these changes, or risk losing their favor at a time when many retailers and manufacturers are already weathering macroeconomic difficulties,” Moquin cautioned.

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