Usually when we hear that our government did something to govern, control, or “Help” us, we break out in a cold sweat. Designing something “By Committee” usually is a compromise that is politically useful, but NEVER is good from a Design point of view. Unfortunately, this is how your government fashions our laws – by committee. What this particular change has for you is the potential to save up to $1,000 per year at the grocery store, without compromising either the quality, or amount, of food that you and your family consumes! So, what is this secret and how can I realize these savings? You do so by paying attention oto something called a Unit of Measure. So it is the Units of Measure (UoM).
Wikipedia tells us “A unit of measurement is a standardized quantity of a physical property, used as a factor to express occurring quantities of that property. Units of measurement were among the earliest tools invented by humans. Primitive societies needed rudimentary measures for many tasks: constructing dwellings of an appropriate size and shape, fashioning clothing, or bartering food or raw materials.”
Nearly everything that you purchase for personal consumption is governed by this system. The system dates back to the third or fourth millennia Before Christ (BC), “among the ancient Peoples of Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Indus Valley, and perhaps also Elam in Persia as well.
It was proclaimed by King James in “The Magna Carta” of 1215, to be the standard by which commence would be conducted.
Therefore, it is hardly new; what is new is it’s standardization, implementation and general adoption. Basic SI Units, as described below sure are controlled by standardized convention, around the world. “The International System of Units (SI) defines seven units of measure as a basic set from which all other SI units are derived. These SI base units and their physical quantities are:”
- metre for length (US English: meter)
- kilogram for mass (note: not the gram)
- second for time
- ampere for electric current
- kelvin for temperature
- candela for luminous intensity
- mole for the amount of substance.
Let me give you a few examples, direct from my local grocery store. In the first example, we look at two brands of standard 13-gallon draw-string kitchen trash bags – each 40 bags per package. We see a total price for the GLAD bags at $7.48, and Walmart’s brand going for $6.57. The important number, the number in the orange boxes, shows the unit of measure cost for the Glad bags at $18.70, while the Walmart box at $16.43. You are paying $2.27 more for your Glad bag preference.
It does not matter what the ‘units’ are, as long as the units are the same for both. You are assured of this by local government regulation, which is defined by local law, which is dictated by your US government – as dictated by the International standards body. The best VALUE is the Walmart brand. The difference is the extra money demanded by the Glad name. Now, here is the tricky part. YOU define if it is worth it to you to use a name brand. If you insist on a name brand, you pay the price. For things like meat, pre-processed food, colas, etc. if you want the brand name, you know how much that preference is costing you ($2.27). This is why there are manufacturer’s coupons. In our current cost-conscious society, without coupons, brand names would likely go the way of the dinosaurs.
OK, here is where the real benefit of UoM lies. In the next example, we compare different brands and different size packages. In this example, we have a 35-count package of bags from one manufacturer. We also have a 20-count roll of bags from a different manufacturer. Which is a better value? The orange box on the left shows a cost of $11.34 per unit. The orange box on the right lists a unit price of $8.10. That said, you are paying $3.24 more for the brand on the left. Is it worth it? For me, the answer is no.
To control the UoM process there is even a “Unit pricing: Guide to Good Practice” manual. You can have a copy of this guide for yourself. This downloadable PDF file is HERE.
Still not convinced? Here is a great You Tube video to explain the concept further. So, what will you do to save yourself, and your budget upwards of $1,000 per year at the grocery store? If you are like me you will start paying attention to those little orange boxes and making your own value judgments as to whether brand names make sense for you. A knowledgeable consumer is the smartest (and richest) consumer.