Friday, October 21, 2011

The inverse loyalty scheme

Over the course of the past few years we have been repeatedly netflixed by the lady who runs the shop right in front of our house.

Each time we show any kind of propensity to repeat purchase specific items over the medium term, she raises the price of said items*, presumably for us only so more or less the opposite approach to the coupon schemes run by the big UK chains like TESCO.

And whenever this happens I stop buying the item in question forthwith, as if to demonstrate that the apparent convenience offered by her tienda (if I tripped up on the cobbles outside my front door I'd probably end up at her counter) will not so easily translate into economic captivity.

Now I'm not a total codo — I can spot a value-added shopping experience when I see it (Waitrose over Tesco say) — it's just that I am not really seeing it here. And unlike our old friend in Federal lock-up, I don't have an inherent problem with differential pricing schemes, even 'gringo' prices (though V has actually had the worst experience of hikes), it's just that I don't care to be gamed in this way, and would have thought that our response might have put a stop to it by now.

We're down to a few items where the opportunity for opportunistic margin grabbing are limited; eggs for example. I stopped buying milk there last week when she upped the price by another Q0.50, thereby handing the Bodegona a 20% price advantage.

When it comes to the afternoon bread session, I try to intercept the van before it reaches the shop. Firstly, this permits me to ensure that all the pirujos, bolas, champurradas etc. that we buy are fresh, because the tienda-owner likes to pad out one's purchase with a few odds and ends left over from the morning, or even the previous afternoon. That's if she is willing to sell you any bread at all unless you have made a prior arrangement to reserve Qx from each delivery.** The bread that has not been firmly set aside will be sitting there in its basket, but she will be extraordinarily reluctant to part with it, perhaps because she will need it to add a few squishily stale rayaditas to tomorrows orders.

*In the case of red wine, she stopped stocking my preferred brand of Chilean plonk and instead started offering another label which costs Q15 more.

** This sort of lock-in might work for the majority of our neighbours — who are nothing if not slaves to routine — but our dietary habits and timetables are generally more flexible, so I want to be able to impulse purchase my bakery products.


Adina said...

:) Funny how that works...

Begonia said...

I'm curious. Have you or V called bluff and attempt to talk "straight" to her, explaining that you would love to buy milk from her and support her negocio but that the price hikes don't seem fair to you?

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