The newest edition of the Good Pub Guide raises some potential issues of conflict between drinkers, breweries and the pub chains that own the vast majority of pubs. While pub-goers can do little to address some of these conflicts, there are certainly areas where consumers have enough purchasing power to change the pub owners' approach.

The Good Pub Guide, the new edition of which has just been published, has attacked breweries for overcharging in London and southeast England, describing mediocre food in terms more suited to high cuisine, and playing loud music against the wishes of their customers. The Good Pub Guide is written for consumers and by calling attention to these issues it is clearly hoping to raise awareness and provoke consumers to take action. It is hoped that this will encourage the breweries and chain pubs to raise their game.

The price of a pint does vary considerably across the country - from £1.76 in Lancaster to £2.24 in London and Surrey. This is partly because the cost of doing business also varies across the country - rents, for example, are considerably more expensive in the southeast. However, also important is consumer income: the price of a pint reflects the ability of the local market to bear the cost. It should not be surprising that pubs in leafy Kensington charge more for the same pint than pubs in Salford.

Consumers have more ability to enforce changes in pub food. Following the rise of the 'gastropub', breweries and pub owners have cottoned on to the fact that serving food as well as drink is a very profitable sideline.

However, these profits are sometimes the result of imaginative food descriptions. Describing a sausage sandwich as a "smoked chorizo focaccia" may fool unsuspecting customers once, but ultimately, overcharging for mediocre food will only discourage consumers from ordering a meal in a pub again.

Interestingly, smokers are the consumer group who have had most success in bending pub owners to their will: there is now a consortium of pubs stressing the fact that smoking is permitted anywhere on the premises.

Related research: Datamonitor, "Going Out" (DMCM0082)