*Full disclosure: Kimberly Clark is one of our Inner Circle members.
You may have already seen the ABC News story about this. But as the representative Cautious Conservative here on staff (translation: I care about return on investment and don’t like it when my money buys me less of something) I wanted to expand on the story.
Like the folks at ABC, my wife recently noticed that our toilet paper rolls were getting smaller — the ones just purchased at the store, that is. Go home and look for yourself — once upon a time the TP fit snugly on the holder bar…now there’s a lot of space/air between the cardboard middle and the bar. My estimate is that we’re dealing with about a 20% reduction in product.
Same with ice cream, although the percentage is higher. If you don’t buy it regularly, you may not have noticed how the square box of ice cream now has rounded sides and is tapered. The half gallon of ice cream has become a misnomer. A few years back, companies ‘downsized’ the half gallon to 1.75 quarts. On my recent shopping trip, I noticed it’s currently 1.5 quarts, or a total reduction of 25%.
And, of course, there’s no corresponding reduction in price.
Some people would prefer your company keep the price the same by selling a little less product, thinking they could continue to fit it in their grocery budget. But I see that you end up buying more. As a Cautious Conservative I prefer you charge me more for the same amount of product. I have a set expectation in my mind of what size product I am buying when I see the price. I can’t help but feel that some of these companies are trying to slide one by me, hoping I don’t notice…a little less product for the same price. And while I am in no way an activist, they do exist and many have Facebook and Twitter accounts.
So before you decide to pursue the ‘less product, same price’ strategy in this down economy, you may want to consider what it could do to your brand in the long term. And how it reflects on your entire portfolio in terms of sustainable practices. And please, when the economy turns, don’t go back to the size you used to sell and tell me you’re giving me 25% or 33% more. In my mind, we are back at square one, and you still owe me.
Which brings me to Kimberly Clark. An ingenious, sustainable solution to the same bottom line problem plagued by most companies now. The same night I saw the ABC News story, I saw a brief item on an evening newscast (and no, it wasn’t on Fox News) about Kimberly Clark no longer providing a cardboard tube in the toilet paper roll. This simple solution will probably save them millions and cause no great concern among consumers. Really, is a little wrinkly paper and a not so smooth turn that big an issue? They are really not asking me to change my behavior, only a small change potentially in functionality and aesthetics. Call it a simple sacrifice. One that, as a Cautious Conservative, I’m willing to make.
In fact, I think this is something that a Cautious Conservative, a True Believer AND a Concerned Mom could get behind. I get to keep the same amount of product and pay the same price, and it works for the environment. True Believers and Concerned Moms get to see the elimination of all those tubes going to landfills (even as a fairly regular recycler of our household waste, I never thought about recycling the cardboard tubes). The only downside I can see is the impact on school projects, but somehow, I think that is something teachers can overcome. So three cheers for Kimberly Clark, one from each consumer segment.