Pricefixer does U-turn on ‘misguided’ wine listings rethink

supermarket wine aisle
Pic: Andy Mitchell, Wikimedia Commons

Pricefixer supermarket has announced that it will be abandoning its experiment of grouping wines together by grape variety and going back to a more traditional geography-based format as of next month.

In a statement, the company said it felt it was important to switch from ‘a system that people don’t care about to one that they don’t understand.’

Project Neanderthal

Pricefixer caught the headlines when it began listing wines by grape variety in early April as part of its ‘Project Neanderthal’ scheme.

‘The launch slogan was “if you’re stupid, we’ve got your back!” and they put some serious money behind it,’ said retail analyst Ad Spend. ‘So to drop it so soon will be hard to swallow and leave a nasty taste in their mouth.

‘Much like most of the wines.’

Margin opportunity

‘Customers often find wine intimidating,’ said Pricefixer’s head of Mendacity, Giles Methadone. ‘And we thought that grouping wines together by variety would really allow us to address that.

‘By stuffing our shelves with cheap varietal crap from eastern Europe at a far better margin without anyone noticing.’

Uninspiring

Unfortunately, the plan did not work in practice.

‘When we drilled down into our range in detail, we realised that actually we only sold three types of wine,’ said Methadone. ‘Pinot Grigio, Kiwi Sauvignon and Malbec.

‘Splitting them up by variety made our offering look more uninspiring than an issue of Decanter.’

Big and fruity

Emergency research by a SWAT team of wine educators revealed that Pricefixer could create more categories if it tried separating the wines by style instead.

The reds split along traditional lines into ‘big and fruity’, ‘bigger and fruitier’ and ‘biggest and fruitiest’. While the whites were more radical, ranging from ‘fresh and crisp’ and ‘fresher and crisper’ up to ‘freshest and crispest’.

Methadone says the supermarket rejected this idea ‘because it was felt to require a level of expertise and engagement that was beyond most of our shoppers.

‘Or, indeed, the buying team.’

Valuable lesson

The company admitted to Fake Booze that the schemes were ‘poorly conceived and badly executed’, but added that ‘since that applies to everything we do, we really expected that at least one of them would have worked.’

It maintained, too, that the last month’s turbulence has taught it a valuable lesson.

‘Whichever way we’ve presented the wines over the last month, sales haven’t changed one iota,’ said Methadone.

‘They’re still crap.

‘Customers are clearly just as indifferent about where a wine comes from as they are about what goes into it.

‘Just like us.’