Innovations in Wine Packaging
At the recent Wines & Vines Packaging Conference, a presentation by Nielsen highlighted several crucial points. The wine category is becoming evermore crowded, with no fewer than 43,000 UPCs, and 4,200 new items in 2014 alone.* When you add to that the fact that wine producers spend a fraction of what spirits and beer producers spend on media, one thing becomes abundantly clear: consumer decisions about which wines to buy are largely made at the shelf. Shelf-appeal to consumers builds brands, and solid, standout brands secure optimal distribution.
What makes one wine bottle stand out from others on a crowded shelf? How do we know? For their study, Nielsen selected the leading competitors among Cabernet Sauvignon producers in three price points. They used the latest webcam-based eye-tracking technology to register the way consumers look at a shelf of widely disparate label and package designs. They tracked not only what grabbed consumers’ attention in the first four seconds—some combination of color, shape, contrast and contrarian “tone,” depending on price point—but also what held consumers’ attention, a factor more likely to translate to purchasing behavior. Attention-holding factors included the manipulation of color, symmetry and intrigue—with color showing up as less of a factor in the generally more conservative higher-end designs.
None of this comes as any surprise to good package designers, whose raison d’etre has always been to help our clients’ products stand out. We’re well aware of which design elements hold appeal, and we take the time to listen to the concerns our clients, research consumer behavior and present design options tailored to brand story and price point. And while standing out on the crowded shelf is an ever-increasing challenge, it’s one that has pushed designers, printers and packaging engineers into an unprecedented burst of creative and technological innovation.
New printing technologies, paper stocks and bottle decoration options give us more ways to grab consumer attention.
New Printing Technology
According to Pat Howe, General Manager of the Napa branch of Eurostampa developments in digital printing have revolutionized printing capabilities in the last five years. “For years, the four-color, off-set printing process has been the industry standard,” says Pat. “It can be expensive and time consuming. Today, digital printing gives us new flexibility. We have the twelve-color process for perfect color matching, perfect resolution. We can make very quick changes, or produce very small runs with variable data on individual labels. Digital printing gives us efficiency and accuracy with everything from mock-ups to press checks.”
Eurostampa has also developed a method of “printing” a label overlay of information that’s invisible yet scan-able, like a barcode. He envisions wine producers and marketing teams using this technology in the future to deliver information, collect insights, guarantee authenticity, or direct consumers to a website.
New Label Materials
Designers have also pushed the envelope with innovative choices in label substrates. New and exciting choices include leather labels with high heat debossing, wood veneer labels, pewter labels with sculptural debossing, and rubber labels.
Cast metal labels from Apholos convey a luxurious image by adding a jewel-like dimensional element to packages. Available in a wide range of metal finishes and colors, metal labels can be made to nearly any size and shape and are securely attached to the glass with an adhesive that is heat and water resistant – sourced by Napa Valley premium winery supplier Bastos, LLC.
Other specialized label treatments include high-build varnish screen prints and coating, faux wood grain printing, gold foil with texture stamping dies, pearlescent ink, and much more.
Glass and Closure Advancements
The bottle itself can be created with an internal texture emboss—like bubbles or honeycomb—that appears only as the wine inside is emptied out.
Corks and closures, too, are part of the innovative new design landscape. Of note: champagne hoods of cast metal, digitally-printed screw caps and capsules, wax seals with deboss over corks and customized glass “corks” from Czech company VinoSeal. OI and Amorim recently released, HelixConcept, a cork closure that twists out without needing a corkscrew. Its elegant presentation feels more akin to a sparkling wine closure to a screw cap.
This year, Cork Supply USA, in Benicia, unveiled its laser cork printer with the capacity to burn exacting digital designs onto the bodies of corks—not just the ends—without introducing any inks or dyes. This technology allows packaging suppliers to help support the brand stories of their winery clients. For example, Cork Supply recently partnered with Dry Creek Vineyard for the release of their 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel—a wine whose new historic label honors the winery’s longtime commitment to preserving its old Zinfandel vineyards. Cork Supply shares the winery’s commitment to the preservation of its natural resources; on each cork for the 2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zin, the company laser-printed the age of the forest from which the cork was harvested, as well as detailed information on the sustainable habitats this forest supports for many species, including the Iberian Lynx and the Spanish Imperial Hawk.
While the challenge of helping clients stand out on the crowded shelf has never been tougher than it is right now, the horizon of innovative design for wine packaging has never been more broad. If design “intrigue” motivates purchasing behavior at the shelf, then these intriguing new options—from label substrates to closures—may be just the ticket to supporting standout brands.
*Source: Nielsen Total U.S. xAOC+Military+Liquor Plus (Ex Conv); 3 years end 05/23/15
*New Items consist of items w/sales > $1,000 in last 2 years combined, & $0 sales 3 years prior