Marketers often use sensation and perception principles to influence consumers.
The new Skippy Peanut Butter jar has a deep indentation at the bottom, which translates to 1.7 fewer ounces of peanut butter than its predecessor. Most consumers did not notice this change. How? And Why?
Image taken from money.cnn.com
Peanut Butter Jars and Dimples:
I like peanut butter, specifically Chunky peanut butter, which is why I did not hesitate to use this as an example. We already know that marketers often use sensation and perception principles to attract or distract consumers. This is exactly what Hormel Foods, the manufacturer of Skippy peanut butter, did over the years.
What did Hormel Foods do?
In 2009, the company added a small indentation to the bottom of their peanut butter jars. The original ‘regular sized’ jar weighed 18 ounces. This subtle change reduced the weight to 16.3 ounces. (Evans, 2014, p. 118). This change is barely noticeable because the size and shape of the jars are identical on every angle, except the bottom.
Hormel Understands Consumers Perception and Behavior:
Consumers are increasingly seeking ways to balance quality and price. They seek deals and are therefore gravitating towards less expensive brands. (Agyekum, Haifeng, & Agyeiwaa, 2015, p. 25). Consumers desire high quality goods as well, so when a reputable brand like Hormel Foods can consistently provide wholesome, high-quality peanut butter at a reasonable price, they are able to maintain their loyal customers and grow their consumer base.
Price change is inevitable due to the increased cost of production, among other factors. This may be the reason Hormel foods came up with the ingenious idea to reduce the quantity of peanut butter in the Jar, instead of implementing a significant price increase.
Did this marketing strategy work?
“Humans Are the World’s Best Pattern-Recognition Machines“. Recognizing patterns helps us identify objects and shapes. These jars look the same, feel the same, so they must be the same. Right?
Even when some consumers notice the indentation at the bottom of the jar, they do not automatically make the connection between indentation and less peanut butter. In this case, I believe it is safe to say that marketers used sensation and perception principles to distract consumers’ attention.
This is indeed a very clever idea, from my perspective. Hormel Foods can consistently deliver high-quality peanut butter at a reasonable price, which will help maintain their loyal customers and grow their consumer base.
Agyekum, C. K., Haifeng, H., & Agyeiwaa, A. (2015). Consumer Perception of Product Quality.
Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, 3(2), 25-29. DOI:10.5923/j.m2economics.20150302.01
Evans, A. J. (2014). Markets for managers: a managerial economics primer.
West Sussex U.K.: Wiley.
The incredible shrinking cereal box. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2018, from