by Michael Wren
When making craft wines, spirits, or beer the first step is to make a product that is desirable. This will help to ensure repeat customers. However, just because you have a good product, getting them to be first time customers is a little trickier. Very few people go in to buy a bottle of wine, pick the first one they see and stick with it forever. Most people browse the wall of wine and look for something that catches their eye. Once they see a bottle that appeals to them they will inspect it further and read the label. When buying craft wine, people generally like a story to go along with it. Where the wine is from and a little bit about the winery will help to connect the consumer with the winery. Sometimes a good story can sell better than the product itself.
A study done by Kathy Kelley (Penn State University), Jeff Hyde (Penn State University) and Johan Bruwer (University of South Australia) noted that while the front label is important, 57 percent of people surveyed read the back of the wine bottle to help with the decision process. The study also pointed to three common pieces of information to put on a bottle: pairing suggestions, winery background information and contact information to the tasting room. Once a person is sold on the label and story, your foot is in the door and if they like the wine itself they will be repeat customers.
Packaging a product is more than simply bottling it in a size that consumers can obtain. Everything from the bottle to the label to the cork says something to your customers about your product. From quirky labels to regal looking bottles every label will appeal to a different audience. As such you must determine who your target customer is. Wine appeals to almost every group of drinkers. From casual dinner drinkers, to colleges, to wine enthusiasts everybody loves wine. Some prefer a region and style of wine while others prefer an interesting label and some just want a good story about the winery. Regardless of who you want to drink your product, you will need to make your bottle appeal to them.
A study released by Constellation Brands in 2008 and then revised in 2014 called Project Genome found six different types of wine drinkers. The categories outlined in the study are everyday loyals (20 percent) who find a brand they like and stick with it, price driven (21 percent) who seek the best deals and value price above all else, overwhelmed (19 percent) who drink wine but it is not a big part of their life, image seekers (18 percent) who choose wine based on the perception it will give to others, engaged newcomers (12 percent) who don’t know much about wine but are eager to learn more, and enthusiasts (10 percent) who love everything about wine.
While most wine bottles look similar, there are slight differences that can help you product to stand out. Is the bottom flat or curved? Do your stay with the classic 750 ml or include larger or smaller bottles? Tapered neck or straight? There are also wide or slim bodied bottles. Packaging your wine in a simple straight-laced bottle can have its own charm that some wine drinkers prefer. They don’t always need the frilly designs, just a good bottle of wine.
After the bottle, the label is the first piece of your product that potential consumers will see and what will ultimately distinguish your product visually from others. Remember, people buy with their eyes, minds and then taste buds. Making your label requires the most time of your packaging strategy. Some wines have clever and quirky names in block letters. This type of label appeals to the casual wine drinkers who are looking for a cute and unique bottle to share with a group of friends. Artwork and lettering are what potential customers will see first on the shelf and should distinguish your bottle from the rest. For some wine drinkers the label makes almost no difference in choice of bottle but the print and story will still play a role in making an impression. Labeling should speak to your brand as well as the particular wine. As noted earlier, back labeling is just as important as front labeling.
Closures also play a vital role in distinguishing your product after the consumer has already decided to buy it. There are many choices, natural or synthetic corks, plastic or glass stoppers or even a screw cap. If you choose corks, putting the name or label of your winery on the cork may cost more, but also can provide you additional marketing to consumers. Some wine drinkers keep a collection of the unique corks that they have come across and if yours stands out among those it could provide table conversation and get your name out there one step further. Choosing a metal, plastic or wax capsule for the bottle is also important in completing the overall look of your product.
No matter what your target market is, labeling and bottling will play a key role in the depiction of your winery. Once you capture the consumer’s eye and then mind, your wine should do the rest. Finding the right way to display your wine to the target market will help bring your product to tables and into conversation for years to come.
Bottling more than just wine
by Michael Wren