Don White and John Lawlor – Real Picture Research March 7, 2016
In recent years, the wine business has seen an increasing number of unconventional label designs – bold, bizarre, daring, macabre, weird or wacky designs – that push the envelope. It seems some wineries have tried to out-do others to create even more daring labels. Wine authors and reporters seem impressed with the creativity.
“How do wine shoppers respond to unconventional labels? What are the patterns across demographic and wine practice segments?”
For one answer to that question, we worked with Katie Kelly Bell of Forbes.com to test labels she featured in her July 2015 article – Coolest Labels of 2015.
Five of Katie’s fifteen labels were judged to be unconventional by “push the envelope” standard.
Those five labels were tested in a Real Picture Research study among 400+ US wine drinkers and compared to a shelfscape (1) reference set of over 360 retail labels evaluated in earlier Real Picture Research studies.
The reference set labels were chosen as representative of the range of design styles in the market: traditional, contemporary and unconventional.
Consumers across all demographics, Millennials to Boomers, frequent to occasional wine drinkers are almost uniformly impressed with all five labels for grabbing shelf attention and memorability.
Shelf attention for all respondents is higher than 88 to 90 percent of reference set labels while memorability is higher than 77 to 88 percent of reference set labels.
The high sales indicator scores carried through to purchase interest (2). Across demographic groups, males show more interest than females in purchasing these unconventional labels – higher than 72 percent of reference labels for males vs 58 percent for females.
Older Millennials and GenXers showed the highest purchase interest, higher than 65 percent of reference set labels. Yet, Younger Millennials and Boomers still show purchase interest above 50 percent of reference set labels.
The greatest difference across groups was driven by usual purchase price.
Among consumers who usually buy bottles above $15, purchase interest was higher than 70 to 79 percent of reference labels. Even among consumers who usually purchase bottles under $15, purchase interest was higher than 35% of other labels. 35% is a high purchase interest when the retail price is more than twice the typical price range for the consumer.
Interestingly, neither under $15 nor over $15 purchasers have high price impressions (3) for these labels. Both groups think the price would be $10.00 to $15.00, yet they are sufficiently intrigued with the unconventional labels that many indicate purchase interest for $20, $25, $40, $60 brands.
How should wineries apply these insights? Is it time for more wineries to up the unconventional content of their labels? First, we should point out that this report covers just five labels judged by a wine writer as “cool”. Also, it is important to note that “unconventional” is not a uniform group. Authors often include – bold, bizarre, daring, macabre, unusual, weird or wacky designs – in this “push the envelope” group of labels.
Based on this small sample, scary and macabre appeal more to men while wacky appeals more to women. Yet, taken as a group these five labels from the Coolest 2015 Labels Forbes.com article all tested well above average for shelf attention, memorability and purchase interest.
As a closing point, these five labels strongly suggest this is not just a Millennial trend. GenXers and Boomers show strong interest in these labels as well, in some cases stronger than Young Millennials.
Our suggestion, from those of us at Real Picture Research, is if you are comfortable with an unconventional label as the face of your brand, you may strike gold by directing your label designer to develop some more bold, bizarre, daring, macabre, unusual, weird or wacky designs in your next label design program. We suggest you develop a range of designs from conventional to unconventional then test those design alternatives with wine buying consumers to see which labels fall flat and which strike gold. You might be surprised with which labels wine buyers respond to.
(1) shelfscape: the term we apply to the landscape of competitive brands on the retail shelf that compete for wine buyer attention.
(2) Purchase Interest: Real Picture Research Label studies measure wine buyer interest in purchasing a brand for “themselves and their friends” before the retail price is revealed and again with the retail price. Purchase interest reported here is the second measure when the respondent knows the retail price.
(3) Price Impression: The respondent’s first impression estimate of what they think the price will be at retail based on the look of the label before any retail prices are revealed.