Today’s wine and spirits market is saturated with hundreds of brands trying to appeal to a sophisticated shopper. Long gone are the days of slapping a label on a bottle and expecting sales. With the rise in competition from foreign wines and a growing demand to differentiate themselves, wine and spirits producers have to step up their game to stand out among every other bottle on the shelf.

A look down the wine and spirit aisle reveals a wide array of options for shoppers: domestic, foreign, low-end, medium-priced and high-end wines and spirits. There is also growing pressure from the explosion of wineries and microbreweries.

According to Silicon Valley Bank’s Annual State of the Wine Industry report, the fine wine category is expected to have the biggest growth in 2015 among all segments. While the horizon may look bright for fine wine and high-end spirit companies, consumer expectations are higher than ever. The challenge of differentiation, not only from lower-priced options, but also from similar products, is putting stress on beverage companies to create a product that is memorable. How do you create a memorable bottle of wine or a high-end bottle of vodka? It’s all in the packaging!

Let’s explore different ways packaging design can be memorable.

A Touch of Luxury

As with most purchases, a consumer’s decision is based largely on perceived value. A product’s packaging is key to creating that perceived value. A bottle of high-end whiskey in an unlabeled carton just won’t do it. When it comes to packaging of high-end products, consumers are looking for something new and unique. Working side-by-side with packaging designers and printers, wine and spirits companies are turning up the innovation level and implied luxury for their packaging. Elegant cartons now feature embossing, debossing blind embossing, gold or silver foil, multiple coatings for a richer color, soft touch coatings, die cuts, and more. These finishes create not only a visually captivating package, but also provide a unique, multi-sensory experience for consumers that drives sales.

Elements of Elegance

An increasing trend in today’s beverage packaging for spirits is the use of opaque or colored bottles. Think blues, blacks and monochrome colors. The shape of bottles is also becoming more elegant. In truth, many high-end spirits’ bottles are reminiscent of perfume or cologne bottles. With many packaging suppliers working with both the spirits and beauty industry, it’s no surprise that many of the design and decorative techniques associated with the beauty industry are making a mark in spirits industry, and with good reason. While packaging design has always been at the forefront of the health and beauty industry, the spirits industry is just diving into the world of high-end packaging and how to achieve an elevated brand image through packaging.

Unique Structures

Structural packaging creates an almost instant touch of “high-end”. Gift sets or value-added packaging, for example, can benefit greatly from an innovative structural package design. Whether a packaging needs to reflect a special theme or be holiday gift ready, structural elements can help create a unique package that will make any wine or spirit stand out – and sell out. 

The use of value-added packaging (VAPs) is so effective at helping consumers visualize a dream big lifestyle or perhaps a special night out sipping martinis with their friends (see the SkinnyGirl VAP above by JohnsByrne Co.). That is the power of packaging!

From cartons to rigid set-up boxes, structural elements such as windowing, remarkable shapes or unique closures are a novel approach to enhance packaging.

Storytelling & Text

Typography and text on labels and packaging for high-end wine and spirits should be engaging and reflective of the brand. Too much information will overwhelm consumers. Too little information will confuse them. Successful packaging for wines and spirits uses a unique story telling method to engage shoppers without going too far. Using supporting typography and other elements from the packaging itself should be sufficient to convey the brand message.

With a positive outlook on overall demand, high-end wine and spirits companies should look to their packaging as their first method for marketing and differentiating their product. Working with experienced wine and spirits packaging suppliers, producers of high-end wines or spirits can create products that will jump off the shelves and leave a lasting impression in consumers’ minds.

Michael DiFranco is the VP of Marketing at JohnsByrne. Celebrating its 56th year of operations, JohnsByrne Company is a custom packaging and print solutions provider catering to major brands in health & beauty, food and beverage, and consumer products. With a culture built around innovation, quality, design and speed, their offerings span value added folding cartons, specialty packaging and high impact direct mail.