An artisanally crafted blog curated by Cooking Lager for discerning readers of beer bloggery

Friday, 29 October 2010

We want information... information... information

Cheap lager appreciation is all about hunting out the bargains and finding a decent neckable drop for the cheapest you can. There can, however, be disappointment. Inaccurate information can send you on wild goose chases and it’s a bugger but pointless trips will occasionally occur. I’d like to have a moan about popping in ASDA for a 3 for £18 offer, and not finding it actually on but that’s part of the game. Duff information occurs.

I read many of the beer blogs and do see that among beer enthusiasts in the UK there is a point of view that brewers & pubs are some sort of charity case and people need to be encouraged to go out and spend their money supporting them. The stats speak for themselves, pubs and beer are declining and for want of a better term “craft” micro brewers are bucking the trend and growing. The growth of these small outfits in no way matches the overall decline but heh ho.

I am not anti pub or anti brewer. Good luck to all, well done to the successful and sorry pal to the unsuccessful. I’m a punter and I like bargains. Many points of view are put forward for the overall decline of pubs and I have no definitive answer but I would ask one question. What was the appeal of going to the pub in 1970 and what is the appeal of going to the pub in 2010? Has the appeal changed? If the only reason people went to the pub in 1970 was because it was the only place to go and the availability of high quality cheap grog from supermarkets offers punters a choice they actively choose then the market is efficient at meeting consumer requirements. Attempts to buck the market with price controls, or in this case here, illegal price cartels, are doomed.

If pubs think they can increase the price of a pint beyond inflation year in year out and still have me the customer thinking a trip to the pub represents a good deal, good luck with that. When I look at the prices I paid less than ten years ago for anything from a loaf of bread, to a can of beans, to a burger and chips the prices now are slightly higher. The price of a can of lager is about the same and the price of a pint in a pub has doubled. Heh ho, good luck with that. I hope the army of beer campaigners seemingly willing to put up with it because they think supporting pubs is an intrinsic good worth ever increasing amounts of their hard earned money is enough to keep you going. For me though, I wish you no harm but I’ll spend my money elsewhere, and use your expensive service sparingly.

One aspect that has arguably changed over the last ten years is the access I have to information. I can check prices from the comfort of my computer and make consumer choices accordingly. It’s not only pubs that are struggling. Every shopping area of every town has changed. There are fewer music and book shops for a start as it’s all cheaper on Amazon and if I wanted to I can bit torrent music illegally and for free, or buy it off iTunes. A music single was £3.99 when I was growing up. They are now 79p to download legally and free otherwise. CD Albums were £14, now around £8. A more efficient market is good for me the buyer regardless of the squeals and howls of sellers.

This access to information got me thinking. I check supermarket prices online and I read the leaflets put through my door and every so often I see a telly commercial. Do I have all the information I need to find the cheapest grog? It got me thinking an Android app for phones is required to link into the web services of sites like My Supermarket so you can make decisions on the move, get back in the car and go get your cheap grog elsewhere. When faced with duff information I still want to get my groceries and cheap lager but I don’t want to go home first.

The barcode scanner application on Android allows you to compare prices by scanning the barcode with your phone camera but in my experience this shows me alternate prices on Google and there’s little information on whether these boxes of lager are on multibuy. Multibuy is when a box of beer may be £14, but 2 boxes are £15. I think I can see a little project if those nice chaps at My Supermaket are willing to send me documentation on their web services.

There is a “cheap booze” application on Android, but it doesn’t seem to work. I twittered a while back asking people to let me know about booze & pub applications on Android and some nice people replied. Thanks to all that did. Of the applications out there, Bar Finder and Cask Marque are worth a look and do link into Google maps. Both are free to download. Wetherspoons are developing there iPhone app for Android so soon that’ll be all you really need. Why go anywhere but your nearest spoons and pay more? There is a CAMRA beer guide available but at over £4 they can keep that. If they want to tell me about the better CAMRA approved pubs near me they can tell me about them for nothing. Even found a free Oktoberfest guide. All of this though is pub and bar information.

There is little for the off trade bargain hunter. If you know of any apps, let me know, otherwise I’m seeing a gap to help and assist the cooking lager enthusiasts of blighty. I don’t know how easy it is to develop an android app or whether my supermarket want third parties linking to their web services. I know this; sites like my supermarket find their data by linking to web services hosted by the supermarkets. It is all technically possible to let me know on my Android phone where the cheapest box of Carling is and where that supermarket is on Google maps. It’s an exciting world.

Number 6: Where am I?
Number 2: In the Village.
Number 6: What do you want?
Number 2: We want information.
Number 6: Whose side are you on?
Number 2: That would be telling. We want information... information... information.
Number 6: You won't get it.
Number 2: By hook or by crook, we will.

7 comments:

Ken Davidson said...

No.6 knew the value of a good pub. It was a place to go to in a nice sports car, with flat cap donned. It was a place to order a nice pint to stave off lunchtime hunger, but not enough to render control of said sports car unlikely. It was a place to meet a pretty girl, and, ultimately, get poisoned and end up vomiting.

Nothing much has changed, but I for one would pay a small premium for the experience.

'Small' - NOT £3.50 per pint.

Cooking Lager said...

No6 was a mug, Ken. The theory of perfect competition requires perfect information available to all market participants. The better the information, in quality and availability, the more efficient the market.

No6 should have shared his information, got let out of the Village & gone home. As No6 was No1 in the end, he was only imprisoning himself. He'd have more fun joining Roger Moore & Tony Curtis in their ITV4 1970's show than being stuck in Wales on a 1960's ITV4 show.

StringersBeer said...

Perfect competition would have a number of prerequisites, which aren't found (much) in the beer market. Why not? Because very few people would want such a thing. Not the producers certainly, not the regulators, and not (unless we want a homogeneous product offering) the consumers.

In the real world it's not at all clear that "a more efficient market is good for me". You're not merely a buyer - you're also a citizen and a neighbour.

Barm said...

I don't know about that, Stringers. It seems to me that a more efficient market would benefit less efficient producers. Why are the producers of megaswill always so keen to get exclusive (i.e. anticompetitive) deals if perfect competition would make them more money?

(cangumit - to seal in the flavour?)

Montague said...

Bottom line: Will you be in the film?? Hopefully I will begin filming next summer. I will need you to sign an Actors Release Form.

Leigh said...

The ending to this post is quite possibly one of the best I have seen all year and sums up your feelings exactly!!

Cooking Lager said...

Tight as a knats chuff, leigh.

Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours........