Ensure your alcohol promotion complies with new pricing rules in Wales

A minimum unit price of 50p for alcohol was introduced in Wales on 2 March 2020. This means that promotional marketers will now need to carefully consider their plans for brand activations including alcohol, as they already have to do in Scotland.

The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Act 2018 was passed in 2018 and created the legal framework to introduce minimum pricing in Wales. This year the regulations were passed to set the minimum unit price and the date it comes into force. The law applies to premises including pubs, clubs and retailers.

The law considers three types of multibuy promotions:

  • multibuys of alcohol
  • supply of alcohol with goods and services (eg bottle of wine and pizza)
  • offers where alcohol is of different strengths.

It also provides a formula for calculating the minimum price of alcohol, such as for a bottle of wine (if it was the standard 0.75 litre bottle and its strength was 14%, the applicable minimum price would be £5.25).

The formula is M × S × V, where:

(a) M is the unit price (currently 50p)

(b) S is the percentage strength of the alcohol, eg 14%

(c) V is the volume of the alcohol, expressed in litres, eg 0.75 fo a bottle of wine.

Promotions – how to stick to the rules

If you want to promote a two for one offer, you need to consider the minimum price for the package, so in the case of the wine above, the price would have to be at least £10.50.

If you were buying a bottle of wine and a pizza as a package, it would have to cost at least £5.25.

If you were offering two bottles of wine of differing strengths you would need to calculate the minimum price for each and offer the joint price as the price of the package.

This obviously leads to issues around saying that something is two for the price of one, when it clearly isn’t – there is a conflict here with consumer protection laws about price indications, so the safest way of offering such promotions is to offer package prices and to not use headlines such as two for the price of one.

It is probably safer to avoid giving away alcohol as a prize and either give away branded items or some other prize.

The usual rules about not encouraging excessive consumption or targeting promotions at the under 25s will apply.

This means that now promoters will have to consider the territories of their promotions even more carefully and consider either excluding Wales and Scotland, or running different promotions there.

Written by Helen Hart, Legal Expert.

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