Compare Unit Prices – Especially When Buying Steam Whistle Beer

by Mike Holman

When people fill up their cars with gas, they try to get the best price. All the gas stations list their price for a litre of gas (gallon for Americans), which makes it very easy to compare unit prices.  One litre of gas at gas station A is exactly the same as a litre of gas at gas station B.

For most other items, it’s not that simple. Grocery stores (or more accurately the food manufacturers that supply them) are the worst. They will shrink your favourite product, so you don’t even think to compare unit prices. They also like to put out an “economy size” which has a higher unit price.

Smart consumers cut through all the bull and compare the unit prices, so they know exactly how much they are paying.

Four pack of large cans - $11.00

I can’t claim to be the smartest consumer, but I did feel duped the other day after buying some Steam Whistle, which is my favourite beer.

They used to just offer regular bottles (341 ml) and large cans (500 ml). It was obvious to me that the cans represented a much better deal. In fact, the cost for the bottled beer was $0.66 for 100 ml which is 25% more than the $0.53 for 100 ml of canned beer. A significant difference, I’d say.

Recently, I paid a visit to the local store and one of the clerks told me about a new six pack of cans from Steam Whistle. The case of six cans was $3.50 more than the cost of buying four separate cans, but she made it sound like the six pack was made up of the large cans. After buying the six pack, I realized that the cans were in fact, not large (500 ml), but disappointingly normal in size (355 ml) and I knew I’d been had.

Sure enough, the pricing for the small cans was $0.65/100 ml, which is just a bit less than the bottled price, but a whopping 23% more than the unit price of the large cans.

Conclusion

Don’t ever assume anything from anyone. If you want the best deal for an item, you have to understand the pricing and the sizes involved.
Steam Whistle is already one of the more expensive beers on the market – don’t make the same mistake I did and over pay for it!

Please note that I have subtracted the cost of the deposit, before calculating the unit beer costs.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sustainable PF

Sneaky micro brews. A good beer, but for that price and quantity, a rip off. But in bulk – king cans rule.

2 Money Beagle

After a particularly bad experience in college, I don’t drink beer, so chances are this wouldn’t apply to me. I buy only the hard stuff and I don’t foresee them changing the traditional sizes on those bottles anytime soon :)

3 Tim

Have you noticed a loaf of bread is getting smaller and smaller and smaller…
Prediction: In the year 2015, a loaf of bread = one slice.

If only they can put 11 eggs in a carton and call it an even dozen!

I’ve never tried Steam Whistle. I should get out more!

4 Barb

The rolls of toilet paper shrunk so much, that finally they started selling “double rolls” which are the same size that regular rolls used to be many years back.

Marketers must think we are really stupid……

5 One of Seven

If there’s anyone I can trust to be accurate in his calculations with regard to beer, it’s you, Mike Holman! I’m going to share this with Mr. J, who will no doubt thank you for the warning!!

6 sybil@steamwhistle.ca

Hey Mike – thanks for your great support of beer but sorry you aren’t happy about the pricing. It’s simple economies of scale that every brewery experiences – takes the same amount of energy, manpower, time to fill a 500ml can as it does to fill a 341ml can. you’ll find this pricing scale with most every brewery whether in the value or premium priced category – the bigger the container the better the deal. If you want a real steal, take a look at the per ounce price of one of our kegs. We offer Home Delivery to anywhere in the GTA. There’s a reason to have a party! :-) http://www.steamwhistle.ca/homedelivery/index.php

7 My Own Advisor

Yeah, you’ve got to watch the price/volume thing when shopping.

Then again, sometimes I totally disregard it – I happen to love Steam Whistle beer. Nice crisp taste, especially with some BBQ’ed salmon :)

Thanks for making me hungry and thirsty now.

Cheers,
Mark

8 Mike Holman

@SPF – Yes, they do.

@Money Beagle – Agreed, the liquor industry sizes are pretty stable.

@Tim – That’s funny.

@Barb – They wouldn’t keep shrinking things, if it wasn’t working. :)

@Sybil – Are you trying upsell me? :) I’ll have to look into a keg sometime, but I might have to invite a few friends over to help me drink it.

9 Echo

I like that Steam Whistle just tried to sell you a keg of beer on your blog.

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