Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Consumer science: the ALDI nappy change

For a variety of reasons we have chosen to use disposable nappies for the boys. About 3 years ago we switched from Huggies to ALDI (Mamia) nappies, and found that for about 60% of the price we could get a nappy which, on our boys, performs as well as (or even a bit better than) Huggies nappies.

I'm still happy with ALDI nappies, but a few weeks ago we noticed a change in the design of the "Junior" nappies- which we used as night nappies for both Big Bro (16kg) and Little Bro (11kg). Suddenly one kangaroo became several. This seemed pretty minor, but for the first time in ages, Big Bro's nappy leaked overnight. And again a second night. Instigating some "micturation mitigation methods" (toileting before going to bed) stemmed the flow (literally) but the suspicion remained that the nappies had changed in more than just design.

So Big Bro and I did our first formal science experiment!

Our hypothesis was that the nappies had changed in a way that reduced their capacity. To test this we poured water onto two opened out nappies and measured how much was absorbed before the water leaked out. The cost precluded any replicates, but I suspect ALDI qc would ensure nappies are highly similar. For comparison we also tested an ALDI "training pants" pullup and a Toddler Nappy (the koala-branded size below Junior)

Sure enough, the capacity had decreased from 3 cups (750mL) in the old to 2.25 cups (560mL) in the new. (This not to say they hold those volumes when being worn). The design change resulted in the new Junior nappy being closer in capacity to a Toddler nappy than the old Junior nappy- quite a substantial change!

Our next step was to determine why the capacity had changed. We weighed each nappy, and sure enough, the new version of the Junior nappies weighed 5g (8%) less than the old weight.

As for why... was this just a small cost saving, or was there more to it? Interestingly, the new ALDI Junior nappy pack also promotes a new extra-large training pants pullup.... coincidence or causation?

And in a postscript, a few weeks after our experiments I found Little Bro's ALDI Toddler nappies had gained more koalas.....

...and when I weighed them they had shed 5g (10%) of their weight with the design change.

5 comments:

ANB said...

What a great activity! I am still on a quest to find cheaper nappies that are as good as Huggies. The BabyLove ones seem to be ok, but when Huggies are on sale they are about the same price. I haven't tried any of the supermarkets' home brand ones except for Woolworths Select, of which we were given a free sample at a baby expo, and they weren't as good at drawing liquid away from the surface as Huggies/BabyLove. The way someone is going to get rich is when they figure out how to make biodegradable ones that don't cost twice as much as the others!

_vTg_ said...

LOL, I guess the people making biodegradable nappies consider their sales high enough to make themselves rich at the current price!!

We started with Huggies because friends said they had experimented and concluded they were the only decent ones (this was before Aldi was widespread). Baby Love seem to be fairly popular, and some people say Coles are pretty good (I think it did ok in Choice's trials too). A lot depends on body shape too...

ilipilli said...

Hmmm, interesting. We have used Aldi nappies for daytime since the kids were a few months old, but still stay with Huggies for night time.

We've had another problem with the design changes, however, and that's that Miss I won't wear one design over another. And the new ones come with either an octopus, a kangaroo or a platypus at the top, and she'll only wear the octopus ones. Major distraction going on here!!

MultipleMum said...

I am behind with my reading but I wanted to say that we noticed this too (although did not do the scientific research that you guys did. bravo!). Doesn't it annoy you when they do this sort of thing? The poor ol' consumer is none the wiser, still paying the same amount and now getting an inferior product. We are back in the eco-friendlies and they seem to be going okay (although I do miss my arm and leg).

_vTg_ said...

P- LOL, thankfully we haven't struck problems of aesthetics... yet!! I have been known to draw the required character onto bandaids when required.....

MM- interesting to know it isn't just me. ALDI is especially frustrating with their "silent" change of products- what you get for the discount price I guess. I figure it's incentive to toilet train Little Bro asap, to avoid him reaching critical-volume age!

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