Once upon a time there was a concept among marketers and consumers called ‘brand loyalty’.
But over the years such a concept has been leached out of the consumer by the multiples who persistently ply them with ‘me-too’ substitutes and own-brand offers at inferior prices.
An interesting article from Food & Drink writer and Chairman of the UK Guild of Beer Writers Pete Brown in a recent edition of the Publicans Morning Advertiser helped put the problem in perspective.
With the increasing share of the beer market being taken by the multiples – who, untrammelled by government, continue using alcohol as a loss-leader – have come demands on the supplier to cut prices accordingly, often with negative implications for quality of product.
“Price obsession has put us in the situation where investment in innovation is actually dedicated to making the beer worse,” points out Pete.
All this has done is to widen the gap in price between the off-trade and the on-trade.
Fortunately, less attention may be being paid here in Ireland to this disparity between what one pays for a product in the supermarket and what one pays in the pub. For the two are not really comparable, despite the consumer media’s attempts to make this so.
For a few dollars less one can buy a ‘beer’ in an aluminium tube. The rest (glasses, service, heating, lighting, décor, washing-up, creating a buzz and a conducive environment) you’ve to do yourself but for a few dollars more the unique atmosphere of an Irish pub has been included in the mix(ture) and this aspect of our pub culture outweighs that of product price per se.
As we move on out into the Summer months, bodies such as Fáilte Ireland and the government should bear this in mind and start helping promote the Irish pub as the tourism draw that it undoubtedly is.
For if the pub does not survive in sufficient numbers the supermarkets will have won and we can all expect rock-bottom product quality to accompany the price they’ll be charging at the checkout.
If it still exists, brand loyalty to the pub is just as important as to the product it sells.