Simply raise prices. While it seems the easiest action to take from a company's standpoint, consumers pay great attention to price increases and may change their purchasing habits as a result. "Shoppers are price conscious and will spot the increase," noted Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org, a consumer resource guide.
Reduce the size of their products. Whether experts call it "downsizing price increase" or "obscured-inflation," it usually consists of reducing the amount of product in the package. It's typically done with coffee, ice cream, sodas or cookies.
"The price increases are mostly disguised using smaller portions such as half-liter soda bottles instead of 20 ounces," said Thomas J. Alexander, associate professor of finance at Northwood University, which is based in Midland, Mich. "You can't even find a real half-gallon of ice cream anymore."
This option works if consumers don't notice the size change, or notice it but care more about price than sizing. In any case, it's often the option that gets the most press. "It seems the most deceptive," said Gourville.
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