Gone are the days of the local milk bar. Sure, there’s still one down the road from me, but the fact of the matter is big retail chains have basically obliterated most of them. Childhood memories of biking down the road to buy a bag of chips with Tazo’s in them… sigh… gone for current generations. Instead they’ll be riding to supermarkets. Milkbars couldn’t compete with the retail juggernaut of distributed chain-branded stores that negotiate better product deals, simply due to the sheer sizes of their orders.

But brand penetration is something we and various governments have allowed to happen over the last twenty years. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because brands help sell products, but it has resulted in alot of “mum and pop” shops closing because Joe Bogan can’t get his Winfield Blues for the 45c discount the local chain supermarket offers, and hence, feels that he’s getting ripped off. The fact is we like a bargain or a ‘perceived bargain’. A lot of the time you’re actually paying more simply because the supermarket has bought everything it needs to package it’s own cheap and ‘brandless’ version of whatever you’re buying.

Retail branding arguments and the blame game aside, I have already written extensively about a certain Coles supermarket near me and their completely ineffective trolley system. But friends, that was merely the beginning of the end. Need I mention how the price of cheese went up extensively to restore their dairy profit margin after they cut the price of milk to a dollar a litre, sparking a (ridiculous) Federal Government Senate Inquiry. That’s right Coles, you sneaky juggernaut, I noticed that particular price increase and let’s just say that it wasn’t very Tasty.

Not everything’s going down at your local Coles.

Then the price of Small salad tubs from the Deli went up 50c in one hit, coinciding with a Deli Russian Roulette of sorts where I would occasionally get served by someone who would short change me with a half-full tub. Damn you “Kim”. That’s right, I remember the name on your tag. I want a jam packed Small tub of shell-pasta salad, not one that’s hovering around 80%. There’s plenty of it there “Kim” and I’m paying for it, so fill it up!

Over some decades, the buy-outs and takeovers of almost all competitors (Woolworths is basically an exact mirror of Coles), alongside futher investment in pubs and petrol stations, has left Australian supermarkets basically devoid of any competition. When I mentioned ‘perceived bargain’ earlier, one such example is 4c off petrol a litre. That’s right friends, your weekly supermarket spendings can save you money at the pump too! Wow! Down down prices are down, right? Nah, forget it – they own a whole heap of Shell service stations they can just make the price per litre higher, nullifying the whole thing.

It’s all a fixed illusion of competition and savings. But at least you shopped with them the whole time!

Nothing like ‘going viral’.

Want some alcohol? Well they own that too! Buying all those pubs for their lucrative bottleshop licences has resulted in not only letting a whole heap of great, formerly private-owned pubs stagnate, but has allowed the supermarket duopoly to wreck bottleshops too.

These issues are merely a slice of the cake compared to their worst offence. This offence takes the rest of that cake and then tries to forcibly retrieve the slice you just ate, right back out of your stomach. All of the people that lost their livelihoods, businesses and interests alike because of Coles, forgotten in comparison to this revelation. Coles’ single biggest infraction to date is this.

Watch it. Watch the entire thing.

This ad. This advertisement is easily the worst I’ve seen, even next to that fifteen year old couch reupholstering ad I see every so often, featuring a grandma from 1996 that’s probably dead now. Somewhere down the line someone in their marketing department had what they considered to be a great idea. This ‘great ide’a snowballed into the “Down down, prices are down” marketing campaign with the big shiny red hand, and a freshly sold-out Status Quo cover song. Initially it caught people’s attention: “Heh, clever”. A nice subtle marketing method, reinforced in-store by specials tags with the same big red hand and the jingle blaring over in-store radios every 15 minutes. Wonderful.

Some people got paid, some specials were manipulated and everyone thought they were winning. I even heard someone singing it in the aisle once. I think it may have been a staff member, and I think that may have been the beginning of a serious mental affliction, but I digress;

“Down down, the ads been voted down!”

Now we’re several months into the whole “Down down” spiel and people are tired of it, you know? We know, the prices are down and shit. The marketing campaign has lost some effectiveness. Then a decision was made. Someone of extremely questionable intelligence realised the same demographic that ‘loved’ the first song, would probably love a ‘remixed’ follow-up. They pulled a Puff Daddy and remixed it… into a musical. Every fifteen minutes on television for the last three weeks now… a god damn musical.

I must send my congratulations to the highly paid marketing team; you’ve managed to combine my intense hatred of musicals with my intense hatred of your supermarkets. Congratulations!

Musicals aside, at the end of the day, everyone’s stuffed with the current duopoly. Farmers, consumers, other retailers, pub patrons, people that eat cheese, people that want to use trolleys without having a dollar coin on them, and people that don’t want to be served by “Kim” in the Deli.

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