Downsizing: Smaller packs hurt volumes

Posted by Oliver Koll on Aug 02, 2017

Brand manufacturers provide choice not only via variety of assortment but also variety of pack sizes. Recently, smaller pack sizes have become fashionable to respond to the growth of small households, to offer treat-sized portions or to control calorie intake per serving. Changing the variety of pack sizes offered might impact how many consumers (penetration) purchase the brand, how often (frequency) they purchase the brand, and how much of the brand they purchase (volume). We investigated the impact of changes in the average pack size purchased for more than a thousand brands in one European market*.

Our results show that:

  • 83% of all brands changed the average size of their offering, but changes were equally split between increasing pack size and decreasing pack size.
  • Brands where the average purchased pack size decreased lost as many buyers as brands where the average purchased pack size increased.
  • Downsizing brands typically see a slight increase in frequency, but this does not compensate for the smaller volume per pack. Brands that decline in average pack size lose volume (-3.5%), whereas brands with a larger average pack size saw an increase in volume (+6%).

Some categories, however, did show volume growth despite smaller packs sizes (e.g. potato crisps, margarine or toilet paper).

What this means for you? Brand manufacturers should be aware of the risks associated with decreasing average pack size when evaluating the decision. At the same time, the range of sizes offered must match the needs of the consumer, and additional offerings of smaller packs may generate more value. In the near future we will investigate how size portfolios affect brand value.