Examining the awareness and impact of shrinkflation on consumer behaviors in the US
March 14th, 2024, Bhavika Bansal

Examining the awareness and impact of shrinkflation on consumer behaviors in the US

Looking noticeably irked, President Joe Biden made his displeasure over shrinkflation evident in a Super Bowl ad earlier last month. And it's not just the President who's peeved. Rising prices and shrinkflation – the practice of reducing product sizes while keeping the prices the same or increasing them – are hot button issues among many consumers, consumer advocates and lawmakers in the US.

A new YouGov Surveys: Self-Serve poll explores whether American consumers are concerned about getting a fair deal in 2024 and if they plan to change their spending habits as a result.

How concerned is the American consumer concerned about shrinkflation?

Data from the study reveals that more than four-fifths of American consumers (82%) are concerned about shrinkflation – with 43% who are very concerned and 39% who are somewhat concerned.

A similar survey conducted last year reveals that a substantially greater share of consumers is concerned about this phenomenon in 2024 than in 2023 (up from 73% in 2023).

Where are people noticing Shrinkflation?

A closer look at our respondents who are concerned about shrinkflation reveals that snack foods like chips and confectionary items (68%) top the list of product categories where American consumers are noticing this trend.

This is followed by dry goods like cereals, flours and pasta (49%), frozen food (34%), cleaning products (34%) and beverages (33%).

A quarter of this group are also noticing shrinkflation in the case of beauty and personal care products (26%), canned products (25%), and dairy items (24%).

Nearly a fifth of American consumers concerned about shrinkflation are seeing shrinkflation in pet food (19%) and fresh produce (18%).

How does shrinkflation impact purchase behaviors?

Evidently, people have noticed shrinkflation across almost all major product categories over the past six months. So, how do they plan to change their spending habits over the next three months - i.e., until May 2024 – as a result?

A fifth of respondents who are concerned about shrinkflation are likely to stop purchasing some products all together (20%) and purchase generic products over their name- brand versions (19%).

People from this group between the ages of 45 and 64 are most likely to stop purchasing some products altogether (27%) as compared to all other age groups.

While nearly a fifth of 30-44-year-olds (20%) indicate that they are likely to purchase products in bulk sizes instead of smaller packages, this proportion falls to less than a tenth amongst Americans above the age of 65 (7%).

Americans aged 65 and above are far likelier than their younger counterparts to switch to a different brand (27%) if they notice shrinkflation in the brand they’re currently purchasing.

Clearly, concern around shrinkflation may cause significant changes in consumer spending habits over the next few months at the very least.

Who does the American consumer hold responsible?

Consumers are concerned and intend to make changes to their spending, but why do they think shrinkflation is happening in the first place?

Results from the survey reveal that corporate profit margins are the topmost culprit according to a majority of our respondents (59%) followed by inflationary pressures (43%) and increased production and transportation costs (34%).

One in four Americans concerned about shrinkflation believe the blame lies with government regulations and taxes and economic uncertainties (24% for both).

While nearly a fifth feel the same way about brand marketing strategies (19%), less than a tenth believe that sustainability initiatives (9%), consumer buying behaviors (8%), and exchange rate fluctuations (8%) are primary contributing factors to shrinkflation.

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Methodology: YouGov polled 1,000 US adults online between March 5-6, 2024. The survey was carried out through YouGov Surveys: Self-serve. Data is weighted by age, gender, race, political affiliation, education level and region. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Self-serve.