Tag: products

In the mid-thirteenth century, the Assize of Bread and Ale statute in England regulated the price, quality and mass of bread that was sold within the kingdom. Consequently, bakers would be severely fined if they were caught duping their customers. This a little less harsh than the punishment handed out in ancient times. In Egypt, bakers who were found cheating their customers would have an ear hacked off and nailed to the door; drastic measures indeed.

This is not the case for modern day businesses who are far from inhibited by price controls, especially when it comes to fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). Current legislation does not specify the minimum mass for most products, the only obstacle being, The Trade Metrology Act, which stipulates that the packaging must be consistent with the content of the product and what is inside the package. For instance, a chocolate bar must not weigh 5% less than what is declared on the package.

Manufacturers and supermarket chains know from past experience that they will be punished by penny-pinching shoppers if prices rise too far or too fast. To address this, several businesses have started reducing the size (mass) of their products as opposed to increasing the price of the goods itself. Producers have a growing tendency to ‘shrink’ products in an environment of rising input costs and to combat consumer resistance to price hikes. This principle actually has a name and is known as ‘shrinkflation’.

Even established supermarkets are looking to beat the discount stores at their own game by keeping a lid on costs and hence their own prices. Shrinkflation enables them to do this. Rather than simply cutting sizes across the board, the smarter operators are shrinking their goods as one part of a temporary solution to the problem.

Food and drink pricing always reflects the economic climate of the day, whether that’s the impact of changing utility prices or ingredient costs. Businesses seek to offset these costs wherever possible through improvements in efficiency and productivity, but these actions can only go so far, and in some cases, companies will reduce the pack size rather than increase the price for consumers.

However, it’s the transparency in which these product changes appear to be introduced that leaves questions for many. Producers employ shrewd tactics to ensure that consumers don’t instantly notice the changes to size or mass of a product. It would seem that the shrinkage of products has become an acceptable business practice for companies in South Africa.

More and more consumers are starting to notice that many food items are getting smaller, although they are paying the same or more. Everything from dental floss and toilet paper to cool-drinks and chocolate treats is subject to this so-called “shrinkflation”.

The question is, should manufacturers make it clearer to consumers when they shrink their products? Wouldn’t it be easier and certainly more transparent for the pack sizes to remain the same but for the prices to go up?
Consumers have a right to know what’s going on, that they are getting less for their money. It’s a moral and brand image issue and companies are not currently obliged to advertise changes. It is presumed that if prices and sizes of all products are clearly labelled, customers can make informed decisions about their purchases. In reality, is that really happening? Our fast-paced lifestyles’ sees consumers throwing the products in the trolley, without checking the grammage. It takes time before they actually notice.

Angus Kennedy, editor of a trade magazine, Kennedy’s Confection in the UK, says one of the worst examples of shrinkflation was Cadbury’s reducing the number of Creme Eggs in a box from half-a-dozen to five in the run-up to Easter. ‘If these companies said: ‘We’re sorry but we have no choice but to do this because cocoa is now in short supply,’ then I think the British public would be much more understanding,’ he says. ‘What we don’t like is feeling duped when we realise what the companies are up to.’

So, while it is the consumers responsibility to check the pack before they buy, what should producers and manufacturers be doing to communicate the reason for the shrinkage, rather than trying to hide it at the risk of a reputation knock if found out. Pushing up the price and using the input costs is somewhat a more acceptable excuse.

Stratcom branding, the leading packaging strategy and design agency gives thought to the communication of reducing product grammage to the unsuspecting consumer.

Gail Macleod – CEO of Stratcom Branding and Founder member of the GLBA (Global Local Branding Alliance), says, “Be truthful & transparent, however use the opportunity to build brand image.”
Macleod adds, “Use the change in size to communicate new news, such as Ltd. Edition, build a brand heritage story, optimise portfolios and add volumes against sharing occasions as well as smaller packs for individual use, all the while, considering the risks. Upgrade brand image, logo and when possible create a new pack size, that enhances brand distinction and image.”

It seems hiding the new grammage on the pack is no longer working as consumers are aware and more sensitive than ever before. Shrinkflation is a risky move and if you’re trying to convince consumers into paying the same for less and, if they cotton-on to what’s happening, they may hi-jack your brand. Instead, producers could take a more strategic look at the product’s overall cost and find ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency without affecting quality or value.

Much can be achieved by innovation too. Offering a product that offers improved quality or value, consumers may well be willing to pay more for less of it. Alternatively, the adoption of lighter or more compact packaging could reduce distribution costs.

But the trend will no doubt continue, bringing many more downsized products to our shelves, both local and imported. Let’s be honest: transparency is the best policy.

China is likely to see price rises for paper products this year on a shortage of raw materials and imported waste paper, according to Hong Kong-listed Nine Dragons, one of Asia’s largest packaging and paper producers.

Cheung Yan, the company’s chairwoman and one of China’s richest women, said at a press conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday that the company was likely to raise product prices in 2018, pressured by increased costs in raw materials, whose supply has been hit by Beijing’s tighter controls on imported waste paper, an important source for manufacturing paper products.

“The government’s tightened control on imported recovered paper has resulted in significant volatility in both imported and domestic recovered paper prices,” said Guangdong-based Nine Dragons in an interim results filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

In the six months ended December 31, the company saw its net profit more than doubled to 4.33 billion yuan (US$690 million), up from the previous 1.91 billion yuan.
Separately, Vinda International Holdings, China’s third-largest tissue manufacturer, said last month that it had raised tissue product prices by 4 to 5 per cent since last October in response to rising pulp prices.
China’s tissue giant Vinda expects further industry consolidation as Beijing tightens environmental controls
US pulp prices have risen more than 35 per cent in the past year, contributing to the hike in toilet-paper costs among other factors, according to Bloomberg.

The toilet paper price hike has sparked panic buying in Taiwan over the weekend after suppliers told local supermarkets they would raise prices by 10 to 30 per cent from next month.
Raw materials accounted for around 48 per cent of the costs for toilet paper products, and almost all of the pulp was imported from abroad, said Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Vinda has operations in Taiwan, but it is not immediately known the level of price increase they will put in place for their products on the island.

Source: BusinessLive

Popular stationery brand Typo has been slammed for selling products containing swear words which are marketed to young people.

The company, owned by Cotton On, is renowned for its colourful and quirky products but has come under fire from some disgusted shoppers.

For example a pencil case featuring the slogan “Shut the f*** up about your stupid diet” is sold in store alongside a candle labelled “Zero f***s” or a cushion which reads “S**t just got magical”.

Some customers took to Facebook to air their disgust in the products.

“As a loyal customer of your brand I was disgusted to find some of your current products (aimed at children) to contain such inappropriate language. By no means a prude, I am deeply offended that you would use this kind of language on your products. Seriously considering deleting your brand from my children’s Christmas gift list!” one shopper wrote.

Another was shocked that such items were on full display to children.

Cotton On has argued that its target audience falls either side of the 18 to 35 age bracket and that it uses censorship stickers where necessary.

“Whilst some of our products are more irreverent than others, we do appreciate that as a gift retailer, our customers fall either side of our target audience of 18-35 so where relevant we use censor stickers on products not appropriate for a younger audience,” the company said in a statement.

“The product in question should have been censored and we are taking steps to ensure this takes place immediately.

“We’ll also make any necessary changes to our product displays to make certain they are less prominent within the store.”

Source: www.tenplay.com.au

Differentiate with digital

Digital presents a powerful opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves against competitors. We’ve all heard the stories of great digital projects and wonder how we could create the same traction for our own brands. In our quest to thrust our brands into the digital era, we have found it to be more difficult than we initially anticipated.

The trouble is, brands who are unsure of the value of digital choose a copycat approach to digital marketing. They hear of something that worked for someone else and copy it. Choosing to copy others rather than create new opportunities results in a saturated market of ‘the same old’ digital tactics.

We see it all over the place, in social media, as brands and agencies adopt the same ideas over and over again. Even in the mobile apps market, brands are too quick to jump in fast and end up with smaller and smaller returns from their online efforts. We need to make the copycat approach public enemy number one.

The copycat approach comes when:
• Brands aren’t sure of who they are
• Brands are chasing speed to market over innovation
• Brands are afraid of failure
It’s become my experience that brands who succeed in digital know who they are, they make sure their digital ideas match their overall strategy and they are brave. They’re even a little crazy, in a good way.

So, it seems fairly practical that we could apply a simple process to getting out of a copycat approach and I’d like to unpack this a bit more.

In short, we could apply this three-step approach:
• Become one with your brand
• Align your digital objectives to the overall strategy
• Be brave
Easier said than done!

Become one with your brand

In life, our confidence in who we are helps us become a stronger, better version of ourselves. Most emotional intelligence programmes will help us highlight our strengths rather than focus on our weaknesses. In other words, to be better and stronger we need to focus on what makes us different from everyone else, instead of focusing on how we can be like everyone else.

Branding is the same. Focusing on understanding your brand should clearly articulate what makes you stand out from the crowd. Why do people buy from you instead of your competitors? This understanding helps build your confidence as a marketing manager in making the right decisions for your brand. It helps you be bold with your strengths and eventually aids you in becoming an even stronger brand. Without a strong understanding of your identity, you won’t have the strength to make an impact.

David Aaker provides a Brand Identity Model that helps brands work out who they are and what is important to them. It’s a great model to get a deep, tangible understanding of a brand. In short, the model defines brand equity as a collection of Brand Loyalty, Brand Awareness, Perceived Quality, Brand Associations and Proprietary Assets.

If you haven’t done this Brand Identity work before then I would encourage you to give the Aaker Model a spin.


I really like Aaker’s Brand Identity Model because he helps marketers make the next step, from brand understanding to digital alignment. In his article, “The Four Faces of Digital Marketing”, Aaker helps marketers apply digital to their brand identity. The four faces of digital that he describes show you how to apply digital to your brand:
1. Support the product offering
2. Amplify other brand building channels
3. Extend the value proposition
4. Create digital brand building channels
With a clear understanding of the brand, you should be able to apply the four faces of digital to identify unique digital experiences that will help you stand out.

So, when looking for the power of digital for your brand you can reframe these faces of digital into these questions:
1. How can digital help me enhance my product offering?
2. How can digital amplify my other brand building channels?
3. How can I use digital to extend my value proposition?
4. Can I create my own digital brand building channel?

Be brave

Any marketer who is afraid of taking a calculated risk will never receive the reward of truly innovative marketing. Marketers are like entrepreneurs and innovators. They need to research the opportunities, paint a picture of the future, build innovative consumer engagements and then take the leap. They need to back themselves and the research they’ve done.

I remember reading that the best entrepreneurs had low risk profiles. They had just spent enough time working out every possible way something could go wrong and they had a plan. They reached the point in their research that they knew it would work and they knew how to make it happen.

Marketers who think like this are the marketers who will show bravery and lead brands in becoming stronger versions of themselves with great, purposeful digital solutions that their customers love.

By Mike Saunders for BizCommunity

If you work in the content and branding space, you’ll know how great it feels to log onto your Twitter account and see your brand’s hashtag in the top trends. A plus is also that it’s so objective. Apart from promoted trends, you can’t overtly buy your way into the top trends. It takes the time and effort of a number of independent content creators that felt like having a conversation with or about your brand.

I’ve been lucky enough to work in spaces where social media is a key driver of success. If there’s three almost-sure-fire tactics to get enough “tweeps”: talking about your brand to get it to trend, it’s these:

Consistently publish hot content

Think about the last time you saw a post that made you stop scrolling through your feed. How long did it hold your attention for before you eventually moved on? If you’re like most people, it can’t have been more than a few minutes. If this is true for the best pieces of content, imagine how little time people have for average, or worse, below average content?

Creating content that consistently strikes a chord with your audience over time is extremely hard to do. But if you manage to pull it off, the rewards can be immense. Essentially, you’ll have built a big community of people that trust you not to waste their time and data (yes, data struggles are a real thing). Before they even see your latest post, they are ready to share it, because they know you have a reputation of not disappointing them.

Reach out to influencers (the right way)

Influencers can be separated into two categories. There are celebs who are super famous musicians, actors and other public figures. Then there are ‘twelebs’ who have a lot more followers on social media than the average user, but their fan base is generally smaller than that of celebrities. If a tweleb or a celeb shares a post of yours, it exposes your content to their gigantic audiences. Besides increasing shares for your content, it’s kind of an endorsement. If celeb X has a cooking show for instance, and she shares a link to your recipe on her Facebook page, she’s telling her followers that they can trust your page to deliver on their content needs.

Relevance is important when reaching out to ‘influencers’. I’ve seen a lot of radio chart shows tag musicians letting them know how their music is performing. This works because it’s directly about the musicians and the radio shows regularly trend on twitter as a result of the artists retweeting and interacting with shows.

Incentivise the creation of content about your brand

Between 10 and 5 held their first two-day #POSSIBLEConference earlier this year and it had a fantastic buzz on social media. A great deal of the buzz came as a result of how they incentivised attendees to create content at the event. To stand a chance of working on a campaign with Estee Lauder, a sponsor of the event, attendees had to take photos where they use certain products creatively. The conference was targeted mainly at creatives, so the incentive was extremely relevant. Dentyne SA used a similar mechanic for their #DentyneSmile competition earlier this year and the hashtag trended a number of times while the competition was running.

By Skhumbuzo Tuswa for BizCommunity

From smiley faces to hearts and hugs, emojis (emotive icons) have become an intrinsic part of our everyday lives.

Hot on the heels of its European success, this week saw emoji-africa announce its exclusive distributorship of officially branded emoji products to the sub-Saharan African marketplace.

“Emojis influence how we communicate, providing us with the means to express ourselves in everything we do,” says Paul Hubers, co-founder of emoji-africa.

“Emoji branded products take the feelings and emotions we share when using digital icons into the world of physical and tangible products.”

Having enjoyed a very successful uptake in Europe, Hubers is confident that the same will hold true locally.

“Officially branded emoji products are found on shopping streets and at retail stores across the continent,” he says. He adds that the reason for its success lies in its evergreen potential.

“Emojis are neither a passing fad nor are they connected to any movie or action hero. As a result, potential for long term sustainable uptake is huge. This makes it an obvious choice for local retailers interested in exploring not only new products, but a lucrative and viable additional revenue stream as well.”

Through its joint venture with Durabo Holland, and its extensive network amongst leading European retailers, emoji-africa is able to offer an extensive range of official emoji products, including but not limited to entertainment, homeware, BBB (bath, bed, textiles), toys and gadgets, back to school items such as stationery, storage, wrapping and luggage.

Available soon at leading retail outlets including the likes of Mr Price, Musica, Toys R Us, Checkers and Pick ‘n Pay, together with various online outlets, what has up until now been simply a fun way to communicate is about to become a much bigger part of everyday life.

Image credit: www.emoji-africa.com

Ystudio is back with another timeless stationary set. Crafted locally in Taiwan, the set of beautiful writing instruments consists of one sketching pencil and a classic ballpoint pen, made from brushed brass that has been tempered in the scorching heat of 1 000 degrees.

Each item included in Ystudio’s “The Weight of Words” collection is characteristically rendered, featuring imperfections like rust spots, yet ensuring an honest and durable result.

Both pens will be available from 1 April.

Source: www.highsnobiety.com

Sure, the “C” in CES stands for consumers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a business can’t benefit from the annual electronics show in Las Vegas.

In fact, sometimes gear makers use the Consumer Electronics Show to billboard products that cross the consumer/commercial divide.

Here are six examples of business gear from last week’s Las Vegas tech extravaganza that can improve performance in any small or home office.

  1. HP Spectre x360 Convertible Laptop

No, this is not a laptop that belongs to James Bonds’ archenemies. The HP Spectre x360 is a 15.6-inch aluminium portable PC that HP claims is the thinnest convertible available. It’s not only thin but versatile; its 4K 3820 x 2160-pixel touchscreen twists around the keyboard so it can operate as a standard laptop, stand up like an A-frame tent for movie watching, set up L-shaped with the keyboard face-down to show a presentation to someone sitting across from you or fold back-to-back with the screen against the rear of the keyboard to use as a tablet.

Included is a full array of jacks and ports including a USB Type-C that supports up to 5GB of data transfer and, best of all, a whopping 13 hours of portable battery life. Spectre x360 will go on sale on 14 February.


  1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 2-in-1 Tablet

Think of Lenovo’s X1 thin (8,4 mm) and light tablet with a detachable keyboard as a child of the company’s sleek Carbon and flexible Yoga laptops that can be expanded with clip-on modules. For instance, you can add a Productivity Module to get up to 15 hours of battery life, a Presenter Module with a pico projector and an HDMI port, and an Imaging Module that adds a rear-facing Intel RealSense scanning camera. The X1 will be available in February.


  1. Samsung Galaxy TabPro S Tablet

If your portable computing needs are a bit more mainstream, Samsung’s new Galaxy TabPro S 2-in-1 tablet still means business, but in an even lighter (1.5 pounds) and thinner (6.3 mm) stick-in-your-bag package.

Designed to be a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 killer, the slightly smaller TabPro S (2160 by 440 display versus SP4’s 2736 by 1824 screen) features the first Super AMOLED display (2160 by 1440) for a Windows 2-in-1, which means bright sunlight will impact it less, as well as a detachable thin and flat keyboard cover. It’ll be available in February.


  1. Epson WorkForce EcoTank Printers

There’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to print something only to find you need to replace an ink cartridge. Epson wants to solve the “no ink annoyance” with its WorkForce EcoTank printers. This whole new concept in printers includes large “super tank” ink reservoirs that come loaded with enough ink for up to two years of printing, the equivalent of around 20 sets of ink cartridges.


  1. VXi Envoy Office USB Telephone Headset

When you’re jammed into an office with several other workers, you want to keep your conversations as private as possible, especially video calls. This full-featured Unified Communications (UC) VXi Envoy Office headphone plugs into a PC’s USB jack, meets Skype for Business standards and includes noise-canceling microphone technology, so your caller only hears you and not the surrounding hubbub. It also has inline volume and switch hook controls.

Envoy is surprisingly light and comfortable. The swing-down mic is sensitive enough to be whispered into so as not to disturb potentially eavesdropping co-workers and can be bent into the most comfortable position (worn with the boom on the left or right).

VXi Envoy Office USB Telephone Headset

  1. Plantronics Voyager Focus UC

If you or your workers need a bit more flexibility for their conversations, this immersive and comfy Plantronics Voyager Focus UC stereo headphone is built with Class 1 Bluetooth, which lets you clearly converse up to 150 feet away from your PC. Its on-ear design covers your lobes to reduce ambient office, or noise from outside leaking in, plus the active noise cancellation in both ear cups and boom mic reduces low-frequency hums such as the air conditioner. It also keeps desktop clatter and nearby conversations from reaching whomever you’re speaking with. A light on the boom ear cup indicates to co-workers that you’re on a call, and the phone will tell you when you’re on mute while the stubby Bluetooth dongle glows red as a visual reminder.

Plantronics Voyager Focus UC

With all of these products hitting the market in early 2016, home and small offices can look forward to small tech advances that make working life more convenient and easier for everyone.

By  Stewart Wolpin for www.business.com

SC-P20000 combines the highest printing speed with superior quality at 600 x 600 dpi and higher

Epson has introduced the SC-P20000 – a new addition to the SC-P series line-up. Combining new super-fast printing speeds with the same superior quality users expect from the range, it is ideal for creating sharp, colour-accurate large-format photos. Including a range of innovative technologies and features, the printer is both convenient and easy to operate.


Designed for photo labs, photo and copy shops and corporates looking for an in-house solution, the SC-P20000 can print a range of high-quality photos, POS items and signage. Allowing users to benefit from high productivity without compromising on quality, the printer comes with a PrecisionCore MicroTFP printhead for producing outstanding results, even in lower quality modes. This is coupled with a high-precision media feed technology, including a newly developed camera-based paper feed stabiliser and media inductive roller system to ensure the printer operates smoothly.


Vernon Mellors, LFP Product Manager, Epson South Africa, said: “We understand that the market has long awaited a successor to our highly popular Epson Stylus Pro 11880 and we are excited to announce the SC-P20000 as the perfect replacement. This printer combines superior printing speeds with the same high output quality that our customers have come to expect, while delivering a range of new features and enhanced usability.”


Expanding on the usual features expected from Epson’s P-Series printers, the SC-P20000 includes a number of new features to help ensure the most accurate, precise and reliable results. For excellent colour reproduction, a new Epson UltraChrome Pro 10-colour ink-set consistently delivers fantastic looking prints. Blacks will be deep and rich thanks to new high density Photo and Matte Black inks. Better gradation with reduced graininess is achieved thanks to K4 and Multi Size Droplet Technology (MSDT), while a new printhead structure means fewer vibrations as well as more accurate ink droplets and dot placement. To ensure consistency without the need for expensive add-ons, the Epson Colour Calibration utility means users can easily manage their colour reproduction.


The SC-P20000 not only produces great results, it makes operation and maintenance clear and simple, allowing users to enjoy hassle-free printing. Getting started is easy with a clearly illustrated user guide and colour LCD Panel. When it comes to handling, changing and switching media, the process is quick and effortless. During printing, a transparent printer cover window and roll cover window allows users to check the status of printing and remaining media. After printing has finished, the position of the printhead means that it can be cleaned by the user, along with the ink cap, to help save on maintenance costs.


User efficiency and workflow can be improved further with an optional Adobe post script module; while optional HDD allows jobs to be reprinted directly from the printer panel, without the need for a PC.


The SC-P20000 will be available from March 2016.

Small businesses and enterprise groups have to work quicker, smarter, and more efficiently to keep ahead in today’s competitive business market – do more with less. To help businesses stay one step ahead of the competition, Bytes Document Solutions has introduced the Xerox WorkCentre 3655 with advanced features and capabilities that simplify routine tasks and workflows.

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