In cars, there is a parallel situation. Skoda, Volskwagen and Audi, and indeed Bentley, all belong to the same company. Bentleys look, and are, readily identifiable as being different to the other three but you need to look closely to tell the Skoda Octavia Estate from the VW Passat Estate or the Audi Avant A4. In fact, not only do these three look rather alike; they share a lot of the same components. One of the three, however, is the modern incarnation of a Soviet-era automobile joke; one is the poor man’s BMW and the other is the Volkswagen.
In fact, as What Car? suggests, the sensible buy for anyone wanting an estate with good fuel efficiency and green credentials at a reasonable price, is the Skoda to which it awarded five stars.
The VW, whose price starts at some £5,000 more, uses more fuel (and is a little less green) and only gets four stars.
My point: ask a BMW driver if he or she would switch to a Ford, however fine it was proven to be and he’ll say no. Ask an Apple iPad user to swap to a cheaper brand and most will give you the same response. Then try telling someone who’s about to buy an Audi estate that he’d be better off saving £9,000 or so and buying a Skoda. He might just listen to you, but my bet is that he’s mentally seen himself as an Audi driver, he has confidence in the brand, and there’s no way that he’s going to switch to the joke brand of the 1980s.
And that kind of – possibly misplaced – brand loyalty is just as prevalent in the world of drink. The Cloudy Bay or Pouilly Fumé drinker might well be the Audi driver in this scenario while the Oyster Bay buyer might be the equivalent of the VW owner. However good your inexpensive Slovenian Sauvignon, it’s unlikely to have an easy time climbing out of the Skoda category as far as most of the consumers of those other labels are concerned.