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Delhi Wine Club
Save up to 70% in risking Cancer at Delhi Duty Free

Posted: Wednesday, 07 September 2011 10:28

Save up to 70% in risking Cancer at Delhi Duty Free

September 07 : Nothing seems to have changed much at the Delhi Duty Free Shop in terms of special deals with the usual incentives on many liquor items and continuation of 25% discount on the Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Brut since I was there a couple of weeks ago, except that there is a heavy-duty, eye-catching promo offer of up to 70% discount on cigarettes as compared to the international duty free prices, writes Subhash Arora who made a reality check during his trip to Germany last week.

Click For Large ViewMounted on Marlboro cigarette gondolas, the displays ‘Kick the habit’ scream at you, followed by smaller lettered ‘of buying expensive’. (Some of you might be reminded of the Marlboro cowboy on the horse, who enticed you to ‘come to where the flavor is, come to Marlboro Country ‘in the 60s and 70s and who died of cancer from smoking?!). My assumption is that the store assumed that you were going to increase the risk of getting cancer by smoking anyway-why not save up to 70% for doing so.

This also reminds one of the Article 47 of our constitution and makes you wonder why our forefathers did not instruct our state governments to make similar efforts to ban cancer causing smoking or gutka consumption, while on the subject of health for citizens and hence prohibition. It may sound silly to smokers but non-smoking wine drinkers would appreciate the irony. Of course, it might not have worked just as it has not worked for alcohol but the state governments would have at least a target to achieve, besides heavy taxes.

Cigarette advertising is banned in India but the moment you cross the customs and immigration area and security you are technically not on Indian soil so it is presumably allowed. It is a pity though that the 25% discount on Piper Heidsieck Rosé Brut is hardly visible. The nominal $2 discount announced on September 1- the day I was leaving, on Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, It could have something to do with our previous article claiming that this  overpriced wine is expensive at the Duty-Free shop  as well. The discount of $2 a bottle would hardly make any impact on the sales of a $35 bottle.

Incidentally, as I was discussing its high prices with a sales person, an interested passenger asked for my help and it took me seconds to convince him to buy the Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc at $18 instead. Interestingly a German overheard me and asked my opinion on which wine to buy; his budget was $15. As I was contemplating a nice Cabernet from Chile, his wife interjected and said that she wanted a mild red wine like Beaujolais. A quick look at the wines on display and I recommended a NZ Pinot Noir from Montana at $18. Coincidently I saw them later in my aircraft, unscrewing that bottle even before the plane took off and both were very happy with my recommendation.

A lady wanted to pick up 3 red wines costing around $10-$15. The salesman tried to sell her Jacobs Creek. I interjected and asked her why she would buy a JC at $10 when it would possibly be cheaper in the UK and even available in any supermarket for the same price.  Needless to say I helped her pick up a couple of Italians and a Chilean wine costing between $12-15 a bottle.

A young man from South of England was unsure of which wines to pick up. His preference was a Merlot type of a wine costing around $10-15. So I helped him with Tara Paca El Rosal Pinot Noir at $11 (we had served it during those early days at a Delhi Wine Club dinner in 2002) and Columbia Crest Merlot at $13.

The point is that normally there is no focused wine selling by a knowledgeable person at the duty free shops, resulting in a lot of potential sales loss. Incentives are payable to the sales persons who give out info like parrots and expect the passenger to buy on their recommendation. Interestingly, it appears that wine suppliers are expected to provide their own sales persons known as brand ambassadors. There was none around from Remy Cointreau or Brindco. This also may partially explain the sale of around 800-1000 bottles a month of Moet Chandon champagnes at this store alone.

Click For Large ViewThese are early days yet and much evolution is taking place in the duty-free sales segment of wine. With more and more wine drinkers or their friends and relatives travelling (a lady travelling with me to Frankfurt was so convinced that she said she would pick up a couple of bottles of Piper Heidsieck Rose Brut on her arrival , if the deal was still on. After all, her sons were grown up and she would rather have them drink wine openly with the family than get in the habit of drinking whisky on the sly), much higher sales can be made and the passengers can also benefit.

If our government is serious about healthy handling of alcohol, it should consider allowing 6 bottles of wine in lieu of 2 liters of hard liquor as I mentioned in the previous Blog. Those who want to save 70% on buying cigarettes (I guess they still allow a carton of duty free cigarettes) they have a choice of at least kicking the habit of buying expensive.

Subhash Arora

PS- The discount of 25% on Piper-Heidsieck Rose Brut had been withdrawn when I came back on September 5 and it was back to $50. But the sales person insisted this was the discounted price and they had run short of the discounted price stickers. To save face, he checked with the cashier who told him that this was back to the normal price and he apologized for misguiding me.


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