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Is Bigger Better?

“Is Bigger Better?”

In our consumer-driven society, Americans demand more value for their dollars, which puts size in the spotlight. The new mantra seems to be "bigger is better." Consider:

  • Today’s average new home measures 2,225 square feet, up 50% from 1,500 square feet in 1970.
  • We’re driving monster cars: The Ford Expedition and other SUVs measure 17 feet long and tip the scales at 4,850 pounds.
  • The triple-screen movie theater has given way to the 14-screen megaplex.
  • Warehouse clubs allow people to save by buying in bulk.
  • Fast-food restaurants have beefed up portions. What once constituted medium-sized French fries is now considered "small."

Chalk it up to a good economy. Instead of lowering prices, most marketers add value by upsizing products.

Yet before you jump on the bigger-is-better bandwagon, mull this over: The size of U.S. households is shrinking. In 1970 the average household included 3.14 people, but today it includes 2.62.

So it may be prudent to adopt a less-is-more approach. Empty-nesters and singles don’t necessarily want a 24-roll pack of toilet paper or a crate of macaroni and cheese. Try to offer value in pint-sized proportions.

Remember: Size can’t trump service. A megaportion served by surly staff will leave a bad taste in the customer’s mouth. Though a mother of triplets may seek the most product for her money when shopping for diapers, when she’s looking for new clothes or financial advice, she’ll remember the business that gives her the best service.

Source: Susan Mitchell is a demographic analyst in Clinton, Miss., and research analyst for Mintel Corp., a market-research firm in London. She is author of "American Generations" and "American Attitudes" (both published by New Strategist, 2000); Mitchell can be reached at: sznm@aol.com.