ISSUE NO. 1
JAN - MARCH 2005
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The Tastes that Bind The Big Picture Mini-Size Me Where's the Beef? Green Dining Mutants on Your Plate Movable Feast Why are Filipinos Hungry? At the Kitchen of Divine Mercy Republic of Pancit Mama Can't Eat Eating Without Fear
The Tastes that Bind
The Big Picture
Where's the Beef?
Mutants on Your Plate
Why are Filipinos Hungry?
At the Kitchen of Divine Mercy
Republic of Pancit
Mama Can't Eat
Eating Without Fear
F E A S T A N D F A M I N E — M I N I - S I Z E M E
THE DOWNSIZING phenomenon, which Unilever's Macapagal says started largely in the Philippines, has caught fire in other countries in the region, particularly in India and Indonesia. These countries, he says, have a high ratio of low-income earners with minimal disposable income. Manufacturers in India have had to shift to smaller pack sizes with the growing demand for lower-priced goods in towns and villages.
"Packaging serves as our window to the consumer," says Christophe Joyeux, development manager for Unilever Philippines. "It's what the consumer sees. From the marketing point of view, the function of the packaging is to be able to say this is the product, its content."
Packaging's second function is to protect the product from the sun, especially when placed in a sari-sari store. Joyeux stresses that the wrong type of packaging could result in, say, bacteriological contamination of shampoo. A home cleaner or a shampoo should be able to last for two years in a sari-sari store although its average lifetime would be three months, he says.
Macapagal points out that it was flexible packaging that made sacheting for food possible and started brainstorms among food manufacturers who began asking themselves, "What is realistically worth consuming in such a size?" Snacks was one of the answers. Macapagal notes that while Unilever used to offer soups only in a family pack for four to five people, it now has a 15-gram, single-serve soup a busy office worker can enjoy even without leaving the workplace. "If you're hungry…just pour water and you have your soup ready," he says.
Yet while convenience has certainly been one of the come-ons of buying in sachets, consumers cite price as their number-one reason for purchasing downsized items. And it's not only because they just a few pesos to spare. Filipinos actually end up saving when they buy items in sachets versus goods in plastic or glass bottles. It's the exact opposite of what is happening in the United States, where the consumer market has grown bulk-obsessed and gone for super-sized products in part because they believe they save money in doing so.
Production-wise, sachets are 10 to 20 percent cheaper than other types of packaging because they consume less packaging material, explains Joyeux. The selling price correspondingly goes down. At Unilever, for example, the suggested retail price of a 100-ml bottle of shampoo is P48. A 10-ml sachet of shampoo costs P3.15, which means 10 sachets, equivalent to 100 ml, will total only P31.50.
"When you buy a sachet, you pay less packaging material than when you buy a bottle. Consumers pay for the product, not the packaging. And that's what makes it (sacheting) a success; it's low cash outlay," Joyeux says.
The same holds true for some food items, although the savings aren't as much as in nonfood goods in sachets. For instance, a consumer would pay just P1.75 more when he buys a 385-ml bottle of Silver Swan Soy Sauce instead of purchasing several smaller plastic pouches equivalent to the same amount of toyo. And in some cases, it's cheaper to buy food in bigger cans and boxes than in sachets. Buying a 500-gram tin of Milo chocolate powder, for example, would result in savings of P10 compared to buying the same amount in 80-gram sachets.
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