Americans Are Tired of Brands Using ‘Trickflation’ to Deceive Them Into Paying More

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Apr 18, 2024

American consumers are fed up. As prices of goods continue to rise, consumers are calling out brands that utilize “trickflation” in order to get people to spend more money.

Social media users have recently revealed these tricky tactics. However, Americans aren’t the only ones who are seemingly having such an issue with companies using trickflation to deceive buyers.

A New Deceitful Tactic

Social media users on TikTok and Reddit have coined a new deceitful term: “trickflation.” Trickflation is the technique of changing up a product’s appearance to make it look bigger, then charging more for this item.

A grocery store aisle that is fully stocked with fridges at the end of it.

Source: Franki Chamaki/Unsplash

However, this item actually isn’t bigger at all, even though it looks like it is. Consumers unknowingly buy this item, thinking they’re getting more of the product, and therefore agreeing to pay more for it.

Coca Cola Cans and Trickflation

A Reddit user posted a photo of two different Coca-Cola cans to clearly explain trickflation. In this photo, two Coke cans are on a table. One is clearly taller than the other. Therefore, it’s natural to assume that it holds more soda.

A red Coca-Cola can against a black background.

Source: Aryan Dhiman/Unsplash

Next to this taller can is the average-sized Coke can we all know. The smaller, average-sized can is $1.06. Meanwhile, the taller can is $2.37.

The Same Size Can

However, by closely looking at the exact volume of the cans, the Reddit user noticed something interesting. Both cans are 12 ounces — the same size.

Many different red Coca-Cola cans on a white surface.

Source: Pawel Czerwinski/Unsplash

Unknowing customers would pay more than a dollar for this bigger can, not realizing that they’re spending more for the same amount of soda they previously used to buy.

Customers Are Paying More

This Reddit user also explained that the average, shorter, and cheaper can of Coca-Cola is now no longer available to purchase at his store. Only the more expensive can is.

A close-up of many refrigerated beverages and items on grocery store shelves.

Source: Kenny Eliason/Unsplash

In this way, brands are partaking in trickflation. They’re using a deceitful technique to get American consumers to willingly pay more money for an item they previously spent less on.

American Consumers Are Fed Up

TikTok users also jumped at the chance to talk about this new trend. A user named Pete (@earlypete) uploaded a video on TikTok to explain how annoyed consumers are over these new practices.

Two screenshots of a TikTok video uploaded by user earlypete.

Source: EarlyPete on TikTok/Screenshot

“The grocery industry apparently thinks the average consumer has the intelligence of a 6-year-old child,” he said. People in the comment section of his post agreed and called out many brands that try to mislead the public at large.


Many Brands Use This Practice

Social media users didn’t just talk about Coca-Cola. Many have noticed that countless brands have started to use trickflation to get consumers to spend more money on their products.

A close-up of a green toothbrush over a sink with toothpaste on it.

Source: Joshua Hoehne/Unsplash

For example, many Americans have noticed toothpaste brands like Colgate changing up their tubes — only to charge more for the same amount of toothpaste.


France’s “Shrinkflation”

France is also having a similar problem — yet they call the issue “shrinkflation.” Reports have emerged that major brands, such as PepsiCo, have shrunk the size of their product in volume or weight. However, they’re still charging the same price for the product — or even more.

Two people and a dog outside a Paris, France grocery store in the evening.

Source: Barthelemy de Mazenod/Unsplash

For example, the Carrefour supermarket chain in France is saying that a Lipton Ice Tea bottle shrank from 1.5 liters to 1.25 liters. As a result, it’s risen in price by 40%.


Problems Around the World

While shrinkflation does differ from trickflation — as brands utilizing the latter don’t seem to be lessening the volume size of the product — these issues have greatly angered consumers around the world.

A person walking down a grocery store aisle among many products.

Source: Hanson Lu/Unsplash

These companies are attempting to get more money by slightly changing up their products, tricking consumers in the process. Buyers are calling out this deceitful practice.


Another Price Hike

There are ample reasons why companies have decided to raise their products’ prices — again. The United States, and much of the world, has gone through a period of inflation that has raised prices at the grocery store for years now.

People walking around a supermarket with carts and some standing in line.

Source: Brittani Burns/Unsplash

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like inflation is going away, even though many economists were hopeful that it would soon lessen.


Deceiving Consumers

Many analysts have stated that the country’s ongoing inflation issues have caused many Americans to be wary of what they spend their money on, simply because prices are too high. However, this has also caused brands to find a new way to raise prices.

A close-up of many soda cans, boxes, and bottles on grocery store shelves.

Source: Franki Chamaki/Unsplash

“Why we’re seeing it now is because shrinkflation is late-stage ‘greedflation’ — when you’ve gone as far as you can go in increasing prices and consumers can’t take another increase,” Lindsay Owens, the executive director of the Groundwork Collaborative, said when discussing shrinkflation. “It’s much more deceptive than a list price hike.”


The U.S.’s Response

U.S. President Joe Biden has publicly called out companies trying to get one over on American consumers. Specifically talking about shrinkflation, Biden has called out companies and their deceptive moves.

President Joe Biden speaking into a microphone in front of an American flag.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

However, there hasn’t yet been any notable legislation or action taken by the U.S. government to try to curb these practices.