Super-size or Undersize…the Customer Loses!

Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon

It has been a while since I shared some thoughts from the customer’s perspective. It has been building up in me…so you are in for a super-sized treat or undersized disappointment!

Why is there no normal anymore? Why does everything appear to be super-sized or undersized? Burgers, fries, shakes…all those “healthy foods” seem to come super-sized for the special treat. I never see an offer to super-size the fresh fruit option or the container of milk.

But this blog was occasioned by undersizing. We have all read about food packages being undersized and Toilet tissue the price remaining the same…cereal boxes, chocolate bars, and, I guess, a quart of ice cream is now less than a quart (I am not the ice cream buyer in our family). The products never contain a package marker indicating the new, smaller size. Hopefully, we will not notice.

This week it hit home in an indelicate area…toilet tissue. Now mind you I never would have known in use, so to speak. But for 26 years we have had bathroom fixtures in all our bath rooms that have a spring loaded clamp for installing the roll of paper (i.e. no bar that the roll goes on.) Imagine my surprise when a new super-sized package of paper kept falling off the holder every time it was used. Yes, they appear to be undersizing some brands of toilet tissue. A trip to the grocery store confirmed it. They have cut about 0.2 inch from the width of the roll. just enough to cause it to come off the holder when tugged. As I mentioned, probably no one with typical paper holders will ever notice, but the packaging didn’t say, new and improved smaller size or anything to alert the unsuspecting purchaser! What do you do with 24 rolls (or whatever it is) of this stuff?

And what does this all have to do with the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence? Well, the Criteria revisions reflect current challenges organizations face and one of the big challenges is customer engagement and retention. The Criteria ask,  “How do you identify customer and market requirements for your products? How do you innovate products to meet the requirements and exceed the expectations of your customers?” The Criteria do not ask about earning profits at the expense of your customers’ health or earning profits by “fooling” the customer. We have all had the latter experience at some time. What has that done to your brand loyalty?


About Barbara Fischer

NIST Baldrige
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3 Responses to Super-size or Undersize…the Customer Loses!

  1. Barry Johnson says:

    Famous people who reported similar changes in perception of proportions include Lewis Carroll’s Alice and San Francisco’s Grace Slick or perceptions of changes in portions (as in Harry’s case), include Goldilocks and Oliver Twist. The Ames room may be the most familiar experiment used to demonstrate how proportions can distort perceptions. Magicians use distorted perspectives to create what they call “illusions.” My current favorite distortions are the commercials that patently misrepresent their products in their commercials are the truck pulling an iceberg — really an iceberg with a footnote that reads “Dramatization.” Using the phrase “dramatization” is a variation of the schoolyard “I had my crossed fingers” when you intent is to tell a lie. Another phrase of our childhood explains that justice is expected, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

  2. Harry Hertz says:

    Thanks Barry. I am not sure I would choose “pants on fire” as the phrase of choice here!

  3. Thank Barry, I love your post so much, it make me understand in a term of customer’s perspective, thank again for your good article

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