Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ray says "Yeah right!"

The two big supermarket chains say they have stopped selling alcohol below cost as a "loss leader", after claims the cheap deals lead to alcohol abuse.

Supermarkets have voluntarily given up offering liquor deals to encourage customers into stores where they buy other goods.

The decision follows criticism from the Liquor Licensing Authority that loss-leading "promotes the abuse of liquor" and may breach the law aimed at reducing abuse.

Ray (Auckland)says:

"I buy a bottle of wine that the supermarket has discounted from say $25 to $15. I enjoy that bottle with my dinner over the next 3 or 4 days. Someone else buys a non-discounted 3 litre cask of cheap plonk for the same amount and drinks it all in one day. Which one of us is the responsible drinker?

So ending discounting will fix alcohol abuse. Yeah right"

Ray is sort of correct. It will not reduce alcohol abuse.

This story last week made me sit up and take notice. The supermarket duopoly (New Zealand has only two supermarket operators no matter how many brands they have out there)have seen an opportunity to increase profits along with reputation by making that statement. Sure they aggressively market against each other and will always have deep-cut wine sales but they always have an eye to the bottom line. The Liquor Licensing Authority criticism must have been music to their ears.
Here is a scenario - Either or both of the supermarket chains discuss the Licensing Authority criticism at a board meeting. The CEO asks what they should do about it. The Merchandise GM says that they have over 600 wine companies daily pleading with them to take their wine and are prepared to pay the usurious 'merchandising' fees to get the product on shelf or on promotion - there is no shortage - they can pick and choose. They can also screw down the suppliers to give an attractive into-store price enabling them to 'pass on savings to consumers' while still enjoying a very healthy margin (whether as GP or the aforementioned 'merchandising' fee.
The Marketing GM says that their consumer research of drinking behaviour suggests that drinking patterns are static or increasing (not decreasing). If a wine drinker enjoys drinking 4 bottles of wine a week he will continue to drink 4 bottles regardless of whether the price goes up or down -- they might as well get an extra couple of bucks for each bottle they sell.
The PR GM (spin doctor) then says that if they release a statement saying that they too are concerned at alcohol abuse and will cease loss-leading alcohol then they can get good (free) publicity, satisfy the Licencing authority, sell as much wine as before and bank more dollars. Everyone is happy. Right?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Parts 1 and 2 went into cyber-space. Either that or Google have a built in editing system that deletes all crap before it is even finished (but how come Richard's blogs exist?).
Anyway here goes...(the shortened edition)

There are many misconceptions in the liquor industry. Centuries of traditions with procedures and protocols can be confusing for new entrants. Things done wrongly are not always out of ignorance however, sometimes it is a case of "a little knowledge being a dangerous thing".
On Sunday evening I was in Rotorua and dined out at a reasonably fancy bar/brasserie.
I had two glasses of wine with my meal (an ordinary Rocca Della Macie Chianti and a reasonable Barossa Shiraz). I noticed that they served Remy Martin XO at $17 a glass. This is a pretty good price for one of the world's great cognacs so I ordered one. I was seated with my back to the bar so didn't see what they had done to my drink. When it arrived it had obviously been warmed. Whether they had pre-warmed the glass with hot water or put a flame under the cognac-filled glass, I don't know. Both of these practices have been accepted by some 'professionals'. The result was that my beautiful Remy Martin XO was virtually undrinkable. To fix it I poured a measure of iced water from my water glass which brought it closer to the ideal temperature. I often put a measure of cold water into my cognac or malt whisky. This takes the edge off the spirit and allows the bouquet to flourish. I noticed a couple at a nearby table (Americans) giving me an odd and supercilious look. I bet that they thought I was a pleb. The bar staff probably did the same but I didn't see them.

This from one of the professional prats on his/her blogsite Epinions.

"I never, ever, mix V.S.O.P. Cognac (or higher grades like X.O. [Extra Old] or V.O.C. [Very Old Cognac]) with soft drinks or mixers. Cognac of this quality is meant to be consumed at room temperature or may be served in a heated snifter, if you are adept in the art -- but I really don't recommend this practice. The simple warmth from your hand, as it holds the body of the brandy glass, is enough. Always serve "neat" with no ice or other liquids. I never dip my cigars in Cognac. "

Now whilst he/she is not as bad as the other 'snob-writers' the information given is not helpful. Real experts say that a little bit of clear cool water enhances the drink. (I am saying a little bit of water Richard, not lemonade OK?)

I marketed Remy Martin some years ago and have been fortunate to have visited their production facilities (or Cellars as we marketers call them). I have tried many good blends with the real experts and the consensus is that warming the spirit negates all the best aspects. Unfortunately the warming practices have slipped into the traditions and the wannabe sophisticates adopt them (particularly Americans).
OK, call me a snob I don't care but good wine, beer or spirit deserves to be consumed at its best.