So, we know as consumers, that we’ve all been dealing with broad-scale downsizing or manipulation of products for awhile now, as brands attempt to maintain profits during unfortunate economic times. And even though most of these changes have been silently and subtly introduced, we do generally notice when prices go up and/or sizes go down. We notice, but adapt. What choice do we have?
Some changes have even been helpful. Our classic, American, ‘supersize’ culture has tilted a bit towards smaller and healthier portions with fewer ingredients and more affordable pricing. Not a bad change necessarily (but psst, Coke— we did notice.)
But now the economic crisis and the ensuing brand changes have gone on for so long that I think we have all gotten more vigilant and sensitive to these changes. It’s harder to sell the idea that what we are seeing is innovation and efficiency when our six-pack of juice becomes a four-pack for almost the same price, or when Coca-Cola® Classic® becomes available in “Sleek” mini 7.5-ounce cans (instead of 8-oz.).
So, I have to admit that I laughed out loud this week when I saw a TV spot for a new Hershey’s introduction — “Hershey’s® Air Delight™!” Yup. Hershey’s — purveyor of the iconic solid chocolate bar — is introducing a new line of “Aerated Milk Chocolate” products. REALLY? You’ve added AIR?? ROFL.
Many brands have shifted formulas to lessen the amount of premium ingredients and increase the amount of lower-cost ones — less meat, more veggies, for instance. And, of course, Hershey’s is presenting Air Delight™ as an innovation in texture, a new experience for the Hershey’s chocolate lover. But, I’m sorry, Hershey’s. Cynicism, born of the incredible shrinking grocery cart, does not allow me to overlook the obvious here. You are taking away some of my chocolate and replacing it with AIR!!
Okay, so the technique has been used before — more air, less package content; “puffier” bread or crackers; fizzier drinks. But, few manufacturers have been quite so bold about selling us AIR — even telling us that you are selling us AIR — and expecting us not to notice!
What’s next? Foamy milk?