These six beers, they all look so different. But they do have something in common.
Can you guess what it is?
They’re all owned by Woolworths. Well, technically by “Pinnacle Drinks” which is what Woolworths calls its alcohol division so you don’t actually know it’s Woolworths.
Oh yeah. And you can add Bolt and Platinum Blonde to the list as well – they’re Woolies beers too.
And, hey, guess what? None of the beers pictured above mention the word “Woolworths” anywhere on the label. Only one – the John Boston beer – mentions it was brewed exclusively for Dan Murphy’s and BWS. Which are also owned by Woolies.
The labels do all mention the beers come from Pinnacle Drinks, which is technically correct. But also rather misleading.
So why do they do it?
Firstly, it’s the same tactic used many a conglomerate. Create a number of different brands and you can take up more shelf space. Therefore your competitors get less shelf space. It works even better if you create distinct identities for each of those brands. See, unless you’re a total beer geek like me, you’re not going to bother reading the labels on the back of beers. Even if you did, you wouldn’t do a bit of research (aka “typing it into Google”) to find out who Pinnacle Drinks. And so you’d totally think these beers were all owned by different people.
Because if all the Woolies beers – and there are around 20 of them, if you count the Boston and S&A range – had the same packaging your eyes would stop noticing it very quickly (that’s why breweries big and small change labels fairly regularly). So having the one company’s beers dressed up as though they’re different entities makes each of them stand out more than if they were all labelled “Woolworths Select Beer”.
So why aren’t they called that? Most likely because Woolworths figure most drinkers would steer clear of a Woolies beer. Happy to buy Woolies’ cheap canned tomatoes or tinned spaghetti but most don’t want to buy cheap beer (though some definitely do – for them price is the determining factor. If that’s how they want to roll I have no problem with that). And Woolies can’t make any money if no one is buying their stuff. If they felt their name wouldn’t attract any stigma then surely they’d have no problem putting their name on the label.
Should Woolworths put their name on the label somewhere? Goddamn right they should. I’ve said before that I don’t really care where a beer comes from, if it tastes good I like it. If Woolies made a tasty beer I’d happily drink it. But I know there are others who would not knowingly buy a Woolies beer and I think those people should be provided with that information on the label to allow them to make an informed decision.
Though I guess those people can now consider themselves informed.