handbagPink faced politicians tirelessly explain how the austere clouds of recession are being driven back by a warm front of confident growth, perhaps encouraging us to drink deep of a congratulatory beer or two, on which note the The Grocer reported an interesting story about SABMiller successfully marketing Peroni lager as a premium brand in the UK.

Despite disappointing sales in Europe the brewing giant reports a stellar 9% increase in UK sales of Peroni. 

OK, the drinks market can be pretty faddish - dressing up a rather average beer by sticking a lime in the bottle-neck caught on years ago, as has re-popularising premium cider by serving it with, er, lots more ice - but the point is, a certain kind of drinker derives a coolness from making a particular selection.

The choice of beer in a pizzeria is not based on price, but on perception and SABMiller's marketing department have nailed it with Peroni.

Interestingly, it seems that Peroni has something of a different positioning in Italy. A barman there described it as “la birra di lavoratore” which is kind of self-explanatory but the point is that away from trendy UK bars, locally this “workman’s beer” is good for washing down pizza and not much else.

Conversely, an acquaintance makes her own line of what can only be described as very posh handbags. I hadn’t actually seen one until recently and being a chap you’ll understand that a handmade  handbag isn’t exactly going to be top of my radar for excitement - until it comes to buying one as a present.

Stylish, luxurious, exquisitely finished and, it turns out, beautifully packaged and delivered in colour co-ordinated wrapping, this was a fantastic buying experience confirmed by the delight of the recipient.

But unlike Peroni, these bags were too cheap. Learning how much the bags cost to make in materials, let alone time, marketing and distribution there seemed little enough margin anyway; but compared with her competition and what you might call satisfaction and value - the “wow” factor, if you will, an extra £100 per bag seemed to fit the market. Receptive to new ideas, after some strong advice my aquaintance has just had a rather good quarter with lower volume more than compensated by a sensible margin.

Of course value is in the eye of the beholder, and it may well be that in six months time with interest rates climbing the market will have changed with austerity becoming fashionable again. The trick is in judging the market not just once, but every day and that goes for every brand and service under the sun.

Steve Vyse