Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I was supermarket shopping yesterday and went down the wine aisles to look for bargains. I have long gotten over my scruples re how grocery giants rip the heart out of the wine industry and destroy brand equity all in the name of market share gains against their competitor (singular).
I now look for those ridiculously cheap 'wine sale' specials ($10 off usual shelf price) and pick up my favourite drinks at these prices. (bought some more fantastic Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay at $12 bottle, down from $22) Supermarkets work on shelf-turnover statistics for all products. Regardless of what they say in that very expensive TV advertising (that you pay for)they are not really interested in bringing you the best product at the best price, they are interested in selling that retail space to the highest bidder - they are real estate agents, not retailers.
When brands/products don't meet the 'hurdle rates' they dump them. Watch out for this - it can mean a bargain although can be disastrous for the poor hard-working manufacturer. Sometimes products/brands are dumped for 'political' reasons where the brand owner refused to cow-tow to the Supermarket chain owners demands or because they say withdrew another popular brand from sale to the grocery sector due to the aforementioned brand equity erosion and the supermarket chain elects to punish them.(I recently bought cases of a multi-trophy winning Reserve Chardonnay at $17 a bottle down from $33 bottle). Anyway, back to my supermarket aisle perambulations. I like Pinot Noir - yummy. Lynn likes Pinot Gris - yuk. Looking at the relevant two bays I see the striking new labels of Whitecliffs. This is one of the 'second' labels of Sacred Hill from Hawkes Bay and Marlborough and purports to be NZ wine. The clean, fresh imagery entices and one immediately thinks that it is NZ wine .. but, wait there's more. Current labelling regulations say you can put country of origin on either front or back label. In the case of Whitecliffs they have buried the fact that the country of origin is not New Zealand.. on the back label in (legally compliant) but small lettering amongst a whole lot of other verbiage.
The Pinot Gris (boldly displayed amongst the NZ Pinot Gris wines from other NZ producers stands out. Look at the back label (through spectacles in a good light) and you will see that this pinot Gris is a product of Italy and New Zealand (probablty read 90% Italy and 10% NZ just to get NZ on the label).
The Pinot Noir also stands out and probably more so because $15 Pinot Noir is rare if you think you are buying NZ Pinot Noir. Look on the back label and you find 'Product of France and New Zealand'. How does the italian and French wine reach Whitecliffs (Sacred Hill)? In great big liqui-tainers, bought at the best possible price at any given time on the spot market.
Now, is this honest marketing? Or should it be buyer beware..you choose.