Expert EditorialThink taste is the main determiner of repeat wine purchases? Studies consistently show that non-expert wine drinkers are far more likely to remember the design and color of a wine’s packaging than the taste of the product itself.

A 2005 German study found that packaging and brand were the biggest influences on a consumer’s liking for a wine. In the case of certain Champagnes, “the expectation created by packaging and labeling information” accounted for 70 percent of a consumer’s positive perception.

Packaging Trends for 2016

Some hot-off-the-wine-press research and recent statistics drive home the importance of wine packaging in influencing purchasing decisions. Two groups in particular — millennials and women — are catalyzing huge sea changes in the wine industry.

At the Wine Market Council’s March 2016 Consumer Research Conference, attendees learned:

  • As of Jan. 1, 2016, every millennial is now of legal drinking age.
  • There are more millennial wine drinkers in the U.S. than baby boomers, (36 percent versus 34 percent).
  • Although baby boomers remain the largest total-volume wine-consuming generation because more of them are “high-frequency” wine drinkers (38 percent vs. 30 percent) — millennials are rapidly closing that gap with each year.

Marketing departments across all industries are scrambling to decode the buying triggers that most influence millennials, including the wine industry. What is the most attractive and innovative packaging solution for retail sales environments?

Millennials aren’t impressed by a shelf-talker bragging about a wine critic’s numerical score. They’re interested in a wine’s backstory and yearn to form a personal connection with the producer. Millennials value eco-conscious products, and alternative packaging is evolving to meet this demand as demonstrated by many box wine producers that employ environmentally friendly materials.

Women and Packaging

The latest 2016 Wine Market Council and Nielsen data on women who drink wine showed:

  • Women account for 57 percent of wine volume in the U.S.
  • Women are more likely to buy a wine they’ve never tried before based on the label when browsing.
  • Female wine drinkers rated “traditional, classic and sophisticated” labels more intriguing than other types of labels.

Although women tend to associate wine in boxes, Tetra Paks and cans with lower quality, this is changing fast as evidenced by the strongest growth seen in sales of 3-liter boxes and Tetras. Surprisingly, even premium wine drinkers are open to boxed wine now, accounting for 44 percent of the growth.

Color My Wine World

Making a lasting consumer impression by employing the psychology of color is key.

Simple packaging and colors like black, gray, white and cream are usually associated with upscale, higher value wines. Bright colors and funky logos are generally associated with lower-priced, lesser-quality wines. Blue is not typically connected with food, while green carries natural world connotations.

Veteran label designer Bob Johnson believes that along with a great packaging design and color, the typeface and paper quality matter, too. However, a complicated label can actually discourage a shopper from buying a wine.

Make It Memorable

Take a look down any retail wine aisle and observe the big change in wine packaging. Bottles have made room for boxes, bags and cans. Eye-catching point of purchase (POP) floor displays proudly proclaim a winery’s distinctive personality through the use of multi-tiered stands with fully customized inserts and pockets. Customers are instantly able to recognize their favorite brand across a crowded wine store floor.

Customized carrying cases feature high-quality graphics and easy-to-read educational print, providing not only a highly effective marketing tool but also quenching the millennials’ thirst for information. Recreation-friendly wine comes in lightweight and waterproof or recyclable corrugated cardboard containers that slip easily into a backpack. The Wine Market Council reports that 85 percent of millennials are willing to purchase an unfamiliar brand as long as it provides them with information, authenticity, convenience and eco-friendly, portable adventure.

Some cutting-edge winemakers are adding bar codes using RFID technology to their labels. Point your smartphone to the label, and enjoy videos of the vineyards while the winemaker shares production facts and food pairing tips. Domaine Bourillon-Dorléans includes a scratch-and-sniff sticker on the label that releases the smell of the flora surrounding the grapevines. Could a scratch-and-sniff corrugated cardboard POP display be the next popular trend?

Russel VelargaExpert Editorial
by Russel Velarga, PakFactory

Russel Velarga is Sales and Marketing Director of PakFactory, a leading packaging company that provides premium custom packaging products and services. Russel holds a strong belief that successful packaging leads to a successful product.