Most People Can’t Spot The Difference Between These, But It’s Really Important
Despite the company’s protests, a federal judge decided to proceed with a lawsuit against McCormick & Co., the popular spice maker. The lawsuit is about the size of McCormick’s ground pepper molds. A smaller player in the spice industry, Watkins Inc.,
filed a lawsuit against McCormick last year, claiming the latter reduced the amount of pepper in its cans by 25% while still using the same size can. The old McCormick cans held about 8 ounces of ground pepper. After the change, the cans now contain about 6 ounces of ground pepper. Despite this reduction in quantity, the size of the can has actually remained the same. Watkins claims this means McCormick is using a visual trick to make it look like they’re selling more pepper per can than they are.
Watkins and McCormick sell the same product, but their marketing techniques are different. McCormick has opaque containers that conceal the amount of product they contain. Watkins has a smaller container size even though it holds the same amount as McCormick. That’s why Watkins is suing McCormick.
They claim that McCormick is trying to mislead customers and gain an advantage over the competition without actually improving its product. It’s true that McCormick cans show how much pepper they contain, but the small “6 oz.” the marker is written in a small font that would be difficult to see at first glance. The industry term for this is “weak charging”, which basically means undercharging. Watkins argues that this practice is so deceptive that it violates consumer protection laws.
Watkins says McCormick’s deceptive marketing practices hurt their sales. When customers compare two containers of pepper, they will naturally assume that they are getting more black pepper at a better price with McCormick’s. In reality, although the cans are not the same size, they actually contain the same amount of black pepper. McCormick defended itself by arguing that because their cans of peppers actually contain the amount they do, that means they can’t be held responsible for what someone else sees as misleading marketing.
However, many people do not buy this. In addition to Watkins’ lawsuit, there is also a class action lawsuit against McCormick’s by angry customers who bought their new pepper boxes. Whistleblowers claim they were ripped off by McCormick’s. Both cases are currently working their way through the federal court system. This whole episode illustrates the importance of credibility on the part of corporations. Businesses that are able to build a strong brand of trust and good relationships with the community tend to be more successful.
Tricks like McCormick’s reputation damage and show that consumers have a hard time trusting the products being sold. So, before you next head to the grocery store, be sure to remember the difference between two cans of McCormick pepper.