NB Liquor quietly launched a new plan last week to attract New Brunswick beer drinkers to buy local by lowering prices. The six discounted brands cost $18.49 a dozen, a $5 savings over the regular price. But the new deals are not being widely advertised. Marcelle Saulnier of NB Liquor is hoping the beer bargains will travel by word of mouth. "This is a pilot for us," Saulnier said. "It's until September 30th and we are interested to look at the sales and determine if New Brunswickers were happy with the selection and promotion and price and take it from there."
The answer, of course, is the marketplace. The earlier attempt to sell beer at $19.99 failed presumably because beer is locally available for less. It will be interesting to see if beer sold at $18.49 a dozen will also fail because beer is locally available for less. See, it is the buyer who gets to decide what is "local" and what constitutes value for money and buyers are mobile.
But of more interest to me is the idea of a brand in this project. It is not the fluid that is discounted but the label that goes on it. I don't think anyone is suggesting the new beer is something less than beer as is the case in, say, Japan's third-class beer or rather beer like fluid. It is simply the wrapper that has changed around what is largely the same thing. Which is what "discount" means, right? Paying less for something substantially similar. So who would pay $18.49 let alone $19.99 when something substantially similar is available at an even lower price locally - at least locally in the mind of the buyer who is happy to slip over to Maine or Quebec to pay less?
Me, I will over on the other side of the border this weekend myself. All hail freedom.