More on supermarket fake half price wine deals

Good to see supermarket fake half price deals coming in for some stick in the national press. The Telegraph have an article about it, titled Beware supermarket wine bargains.

Most of the major supermarkets have these ‘tactical brands’ (or ‘trade drivers’) as part of their portfolio. They are priced, say, at £10, but are on regular promotion at £5. Supermarkets claim that their customers love them, and that they are very profitable. But they are, in my opinion, fundamentally dishonest.

Website www.mysupermarket.co.uk is a very useful tool for exposing the dishonestly priced tactical brands. You can see which wines are on offer in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Waitrose, and then look at the historical pricing of each of the wines. It’s very revealing.

Of the four supermarkets, Sainsbury’s and Tesco are the chief offenders. I had a quick look to spot some of their tactical brands. Tesco’s Wine Route South African pair are priced at £9.99 but are regularly on offer at £4.99, and have been as low as £4.49. Their Wine from France Cote du Rhone is £10.49 but cycles regularly to £5.49 or even £4.99. Ogio is a key tactical brand for Tesco, listed at £9.99 or even £10.99, and then regularly dipping to £4.99 or even £4. Marques de Carano Gran Reserva from Spain is dressed up to look like a Rioja, and regularly cycles from £9.99 to £4.99.

Sainsbury’s seem to love their variable pricing, too. McGuigan Bin Series Merlot is listed at £10.49, or even £10.99. It’s regularly available for £4.99 or £5.24, 0r £5.99 (price chart from mysupermarket is above). Vina Maipo, a Chilean soft brand, is a tactical one: £9.99 retail price, but sells regularly at £4.99. Roc de Lussac St Emilion looks like a serious Bordeaux at £14.99, but you’d be a mug if you paid that for it – it’s frequently knocked back to £7.49. Terre de Galets Cotes du Rhone is £10.49. Except for when it is £5.49. Which is quite a lot.

But the worst pricing I saw was the following. Piccini Chianti Reserva, normally available in Asda and Sainsbury for £6.98. But Sainsbury’s have a special offer on at the moment:

How long was it priced at £11.99 in Sainsbury’s? This is the mysupermarket price chart for this wine:

I don’t know how accurate mysupermarket’s pricing data are, but this seems to suggest that it hasn’t been priced at £11.99 very often.

9 comments to More on supermarket fake half price wine deals

  • Frankie Cook

    Hardy’s Crest range is one of the worst offenders

  • Justin Roberts

    This doesn’t just happen with wine… check out some of the olive oil brands. They’re on promotion more often than not.

  • Giles

    The supermarkets often do this with bulk-shipped Kiwi sauvignon blanc. You’ll see something with a name like “Cloudy Hills” reduced from £10 to £5.99 and the back label confirms it was bottled somewhere in Surrey. Having tasted some of this stuff out of interest, it’s usually not even worth £3.99.

  • Simon T

    In 1996 when this all started, the insatiable appetite for ‘half-price’ wine was discovered by accident and a narrow band of wines suddenly exploded into stratospheric growth – and suppliers actually made good money in those days !

    The major brands were reluctant, but at the same time pragmatic and were soon lured by the big volumes and in doing so became hooked on the 1/2 price drug for the next generation and always craving the ‘big hit’ of a Christmas / Wine Festival.

    Today, the 1/2 price plan is more organised, has a multitude of wines from different countries and is a part of the ‘defined mix’ of the Supermarket wine category. And when Supermarket A sold a lot more than competitors when they introduced Chablis/Chateu-neuf at Xmas on an £11.99/£5.99 ‘half-pricer’ a few years ago, guess what all the competition did the following year…

    All of the big retailers merely see wine in the same way as Washing powder, pet food etc – how much space does it need, how much have I sold, how much profit per sq ft etc.

    Now clearly people within the trade understand that a £10/£5 wine is ‘fit for purpose’ at circa £4.50-£6, however the UK wine market is underpinned by a large proportion of wine consumers who use ‘Half Price’ in wine as a signpost for their purchase decision – do they really care / are they really being conned when they actually only ever buy it at the half-price £5 ? (if you were to analyse sales of half-price wines, it is likely you would find that 99.5% of sales in the year are at the lower retail anyway)

    But there are positive signals coming from the Supermarkets and realistically it is they who need to drive the agenda as most of them have the long-term financial security of the supply base in the palm of their hand and (with the exception of the wine brands who are bankrolled by big Spirits businesses) the brand owners merely jump to their tune and design wine brands to fit the needs of the market and in doing so ensure their winery operates at optimum efficiency.

    Wine has kind of lost its way and it would be good to manage the discount structures to more sensible levels, but without Government/State intervention and in a market of such intense competition, it is likely we will continue to have more of the same.

  • I am really happy to see this practice get some attention from a well-known wine writer. A few years ago, I suspected this was happening in the states at a big beverage chain famous for their Buy 1, Get the 2nd for 5 Cents events. This year I got into the insides of the company. When I realized they were doubling the prices per bottle for the sale (only on some bottles) I felt kicked in the stomach. I had recommended this outfit to my readers in the past. I also realized they were not transparent about some other practices which I personally found to be dishonest.

  • Good post Jamie – the more that the online and printed press keep highlighting this issue, the sooner something must surely be done about it. Every single wine course that I host – this question about half price wines gets asked i.e are they genuine? – the look of genuine dismay on at least 75% of the faces in the room, means that unfortunately inflated prices and false discounting works and won’t change until the OFT do something about it.

  • John Towers

    If you want to drink reliable wines, fairly priced, join the not for profit Wine Society.

  • John Towers

    The time clock on this Blog is an hour behind real time. Is that deliberate, or just an oversight?

  • What’s interesting is how this creates a vicious circle when it comes to our buying behaviours. We all appear to do it; noone is immune, it seems, to our thirst for cut-price bottles.

    I also reblogged this at http://www.rudewinesblog.co.uk/are-supermarket-wine-special-offers-real/

    Perhaps it simply rankles at how affordable wine is on the continent?

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