Size Matters

2nd August, 2011: Posted by glpease in Editorial

“Matters. Is that the intransitive verb form of the word, or the noun form?” It’s both. I need to rant. Just a little. Sometimes, I’m told, it’s good for the soul, and I’m hoping this will be one of those times.

See, I made the decision early in my business to package my tobaccos in 2oz quantities, and later in 8oz, which is 13% more tobacco than the much more common 50g and 200g tins. I’ve stuck to my Imperial Avoirdupois guns ever since, despite some not insignificant pressure to change to Metric measures to more easily accommodate export sales. (Truthfully, internally, I’m all metric anyway, but have to convert to English measures for manufacture. It would actually be easier to just stay metric through the whole process, but that’s another story.)

The gripe, for me, comes when people start comparing prices, without actually doing the arithmetic. While a 2oz tin of one of mine might cost a bit more than a 50g tin of someone else’s, the price per gram, or per ounce, or per bowl, is often actually lower for mine. But, it’s hard to overcome perception. They’re both tins, and look to be the same size. People have become accustomed to tobacco sold in 50g, 100g and 200g quantities, so they internally assume all tobaccos are sold that way. This is borne out by the fact that I frequently see people on the net talking about “a 50g tin” of one of my blends, and, really, it drives me just a little batty. Even some retailers have advertised them as 50g, despite the fact that they are a full 2oz, and they should know better.

The fact is, packaging costs in materials and labour are the same for a 50g tin as they are for a 2oz tin, and since this is actually a significant percentage of the overall manufactured cost, I figure, why not put the extra tobacco in, and give the consumer a little better value? It actually makes sense. But, people don’t do the calculation, and then squawk because my price point is higher than some of the competition. Maybe I should just change to 50g, leave the price the same, and pocket the difference. At the end of the month, it might buy me a pound of coffee or something.

Lately, I’m seeing more 40g and 1.5oz tins showing up on the market, which will further confuse the market. Some of these end up being significantly more expensive per ounce, despite the fact that the price of the tin may appear competitive. Math shatters illusions, but people are probably just too busy, or perhaps too uninterested to take the time.

Really, when you look at it on a per bowl basis, the differences are pretty insignificant, so this is all likely academic. But, I am left to wonder, how many actually think about the price per ounce or per gram, or per bowl, and how many consider only the price of the tin when comparing? What do you think about when considering “value?” Is price, at least within reason, a consideration in your buying decision, or do you just buy what you like, and not worry about the cost? (And, don’t worry. This is not the harbinger of some impending skyrocketing of prices. As we always have, we’ll continue to hold them where they are as long as we possibly can.)