Shrinkflation, price hike underscore brands’ struggle to navigate economic crunch

By Seun Johnson

The burden on the Nigerian brands to survive the current economic hiccups orchestrated by the removal of fuel subsidy and consistent dip of naira against the dollar has been speculated as reason for the sharp decline in consumers’ satisfaction. Despite an upward review of product prices in line with the current economic realities, many Nigerian brands have cleverly devised strategies to make consumers pay more for lesser value.

Recent findings confirmed that the quantity of product initially packaged and sold at a specified rate has drastically reduced while the prices for same size of product have gone up.

Many toothpaste brands have been identified by consumers to have been involved in reduction of product quantity with a significant increase in price. A tube of toothpaste which was initially sold for between 400 and 500 naira before the removal of fuel subsidy is currently sold for between 600 and 700 naira depending on the brand. The prices have continued to go up as exchange rate remains unstable.

A consumer, Mrs. Toyin Babalola who described the situation as an unfair treatment, called on the Consumer Protection Agency to intervene, noting that while the increase in price is understandable, it is completely outrageous to reduce the quantity.

“If you look at the content inside a toothpaste tube compared to what we used to buy then, you will know that some of these brands are not fair to the consumers. Apart from reducing the quantity, I discovered that the last one I bought has nothing in the middle of the tube and yet, it was sold at an increased price,” she lamented

Another consumer also complained that many detergent products have reduced the quantity in the pack and they are regularly jacking up the price.

The consumer who spoke to Marketing Edge complained that what she normally bought for 1000 naira has increased to 1,500 naira with content that is a little above half of the sachet. She further revealed that the development has made her to try different brands of detergents with nearly all of them guilty of the act.

Many Nigerians especially those in the marketing industry have attributed the trend to survival strategy, owing to the astronomical cost of production and unfriendly business environment that have rendered companies helpless in Nigeria.

Realizing how consumers have always been at the receiving end of brands’ inconsistency in meeting their satisfaction, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu reiterated his position on the consumer right in Lagos, noting that it is his responsibility to ensure they are protected and prevented from being shortchanged by brand owners. Sanwo-Olu made the statement while receiving an award as Consumer Right Advocacy Governor at the recently held Consumer Value Award in Lagos.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Ososanya Adetutu, the governor stated that consumers who feel shortchanged should approach the State Consumer Protection Agency where their complains will be taken up and pursued to a logical end.

“As we all know, the overriding responsibility of government as enshrined in the constitution is to ensure the welfare and security of the citizens. Promoting citizens welfare connotes among other things protecting them against exploitation and ensuring they receive values for money spent to procure goods and services.

“Being the commercial and industrial nerve center of the nation, the Lagos state government recognizes the need to put in place an agency that will be charged with the responsibilities of ensuring that people will not be shortchanged or exploited and received the satisfaction expected from the goods and services purchased,” the governor assured residents.”

The statement by the Lagos State governor is expected to put brands on their toes in living up to expectations and satisfying their consumers by delivering value for money spent on any product that is purchased.

In economics, shrinkflation, also known as the grocery shrink ray, deflation, or package downsizing, is the process of items shrinking in size or quantity, or even sometimes reformulating or reducing quality, while their prices remain the same or increase.


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