Summer is prime time for limited edition, seasonal beverages. This year, there is a multitude of new craft beer varieties, sparkling drinks, wine and more, as brands like to mix things up and attract consumers seeking new, fresh and flavorful drinks. Refreshed designs, structure changes and styles are normal. This year, consumers are seeing more interactive packaging, as well as a nostalgic look back to one of our Founding Fathers.
According to PMMI’s (pmmi.org) executive summary of its 2018 “Beverage Trends in Packaging and Processing Operations” report, plastic will remain the top packaging material for beverage products, with 37 percent growth in plastic bottles and 45 percent in pouches projected through 2028.
Gary Hemphill, managing director of research at Beverage Marketing Corp. (beveragemarketing.com) agrees. “Plastic containers have been gaining share but this is somewhat a reflection of category performance. For example, plastic dominates bottled water, and that category is experiencing solid growth.”
The innovation in beverage packaging, however, will be seen in aluminum cans and bottles, the PMMI report states. Aluminum is used to create new sizes and shapes, due to its flexible nature, the report states. Enhancements such as BPA-free coatings for cans and graphics used on cans are also expanding. Think: shrink sleeve applications, as seen in the sidebar on the next page, and new ink technology (photochromic and thermochromic) and tactile effects.
NOSTALGIC BY DESIGN
Anheuser-Busch InBev has frequently used limited offerings, with new Bud Light Orange just out this spring, joining its Bud Light Lime citrus counterpart. However, it’s the new Freedom Reserve Red Lager that has America buzzing. The red lager is based on a recipe kept by George Washington. The recipe, says A-B, was penned by Washington in his military journal dated 1757.
Freedom Reserve is the second in the Reserve Collection; the first was Budweiser 1933 Repeal Reserve, which was out late in 2017. Similar to the Repeal Reserve, Freedom Reserve will be packaged in a vintage stubby bottle. They’re shorter and wider but still hold the same amount of liquid as a can (12 oz.). The beer will also be available in a one-pint can.
The limited edition lager features a new label that showcases the Freedom Reserve name and the Folds of Honor logo (the company’s long-time partner). Signatures are prominently featured on each bottle and can. The signatures are of a select group of Budweiser brewers, who are also veterans and worked to brew the Freedom Reserve for the public.
Another brand with a commemorative design is Yazoo Brewing. A beer bottle for the 2018 Craft Brewers Conference this spring was designed and manufactured for Yazoo Brewing by Ardagh Group (ardaghgroup.com). The 12-oz. Heritage bottle features the Yazoo logo on the neck, along with the words “Ardagh Glass” on the shoulder. Once tipped back for a drink, the CBC 2018 decoration is shown on the bottom of the bottle.
The bottle’s branded design reflects the glass bottle’s status as a 100 percent recyclable package. This is a plus, as most consumers want environmentally friendly products but are not willing to pay more for them, says Beverage Marketing’s Hemphill.
“We’ve been bottling since 2005, and it’s the package we know and trust,” said Linus Hall, founder/owner of Yazoo Brewing. “With so much care going into brewing a great beer, we feel that glass gives us the best chance to get that beer to our customers with low dissolved oxygen pickup.”
The commemorative bottle is used with Yazoo’s core beer brands: Pale Ale, Dos Perros, Hefeweizen, Sly Rye Porter, Hop Perfect IPA, Gerst, Pilsner, HOPRY Double IPA and Sue, available in six-pack bottles.
One way of engaging consumers is adding interactive features to the packaging. The new 12-pack sampler by Alaskan Brewing includes a window that allows consumers to see, touch and turn the rotating beer styles inside. Each Frontier Pack will include 12 oz. bottle staples Alaskan Amber and Icy Bay IPA, along with two other rotating styles including a limited-edition beer and a brewers’ choice handpicked by one of Alaskan’s team of brewers. The ales are created from Alaska’s glacier-fed waters.
“We all love trying fun, different beers and wanted to figure out a way to give people that variety that we love and make sure there’s something for everyone, while allowing the them more freedom of choice,” said Scott McHenry, Alaskan Brewer. “Putting limited-edition beers in here means we get to be creative and play around with styles some, or bring back fan favorites from years past. Having a brewers’ choice beer in the Frontier Pack is a fun way to share a little window into who we are and what we love.”
Jumping on the interactive bandwagon is Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co. with its new limited-edition lemonade six-pack. It’s a social extension built around six packs with a Snapchat Snapcode contest calling for consumers to submit their best joke for a chance to win a “Happy Weekend Giveaway" and a custom Snapchat lens, in partnership with media agency Wavemaker and The Annex. There was also a series of The Bright Side popup events in both New York and Los Angeles.
The Bright Side campaign was created in 2017 by The Annex (annexneversleeps.com), an agency powered by Havas, when the brand changed its marketing strategy to target millennial males through content focused on laughter and good times.
The six-packs come with different sayings on the carton: “No batteries required,” “Fun for ages 21+” and “Welcome to the bright side.”
HAT’S OFF TO RECYCLING
One PET bottle that captured worldwide attention recently celebrated this spring’s royal wedding—all in the name of recycling. Sparkling water brand SodaStream (sodastream.co.uk) dressed up a set of limited edition PET bottles to be auctioned as a donation to Surfers Against Sewage, the royal couple’s charity of choice, which fights against single-use plastic bottles.
To withstand the pressure of carbonation, the plastic bottles use a hermetic sealing cap to keep the water sparkling for longer. Each bottle is BPA-free.
The set of miniature hats has been created using state-of-the-art 3D printing and is 100 percent recyclable. Each of the five exclusive hat designs is inspired by an iconic look previously sported by female royals. The concept was imagined by the Israeli innovation agency, Gefen Team (gteam.org), and developed jointly with SodaStream’s global marketing team.
The limited royal edition bottles were auctioned in May and were open to worldwide online bidding.
Under Pressure: How Henniker Brewing Is Winning in a Crowded Market
When Henniker Brewing Co. started brewing beer in 2011, there were 17 craft brewers in New Hampshire. Seven years later there are 71, and shelf space is at a premium. Those conditions brought the growing brewery to a packaging and branding crossroads. To remain competitive and stand out on the store shelves, the company needed operational flexibility and visual differentiation. That meant going in a very different direction with its branding and packaging.
FROM BOMBERS TO CANS
Like many small brewers, Henniker started selling its beers in 22-oz. bomber bottles affixed with pressure-sensitive labels. The beer was good, and sales rose. But with growing sales came growing costs, so Henniker began to look for options to contain those costs. It found an answer in cans.
Canned craft beer is lighter and easier to transport, making it a more sustainable and less expensive way to ship to retail, and a plus for on-the-go consumers. Cans also preserve beer freshness and integrity longer, and canning lines are proving cheaper to manage than most bottling operations. Henniker was sold on the idea. They moved their business to cans branded with caricatures on shrink sleeves, which worked well—for a while.
FROM SHRINK TO PRESSURE SENSITIVE
Despite strong growth among its four core brands, Henniker started experiencing some serious competition on the shelf. Its solution was to rebrand, starting with its seasonal line.
“Shrink was a great packaging option to first share our new branding,” said Dave Currier, founder. “We went with a simplified, high-color graphic design for our seasonal line, and it was successful. From there, we decided to extend the new brand to our core lines, and we chose to utilize pressure-sensitive labels to reduce can inventory. Additionally, producing our own labels gave us the flexibility we were looking for.”
Henniker now sells its core beers and most limited releases in 12- and 16-oz. aluminum cans double-coated in white with clear, pressure-sensitive labels created by converter New England Label (newenglandlabel.com), one of New England’s largest ISO 9001:2008 certified label manufacturing companies.
Bright colors, interesting graphics and strong black type stand out against the luminous white of the can, creating the look of direct print technology due to the film clarity of Avery Dennison’s (averydennison.com) advanced pressure-sensitive materials.
PRESSURE SENSITIVE ADVANTAGES
“The beer market is becoming increasingly more competitive for converters, many of whom are fighting for business on price alone,” said Ryan Dunlevy of New England Label. “We knew what Henniker wanted to accomplish by rebranding with pressure-sensitive materials. We knew Avery Dennison pressure-sensitive materials would make the rebranded colors pop, and their S7000 adhesive would hold tight on Henniker’s cold, wet cans. Plus, with our digital presses, we were able to offer Henniker cost and process efficiencies for multiple SKUs.”
Henniker’s Currier agrees that the move to pressure-sensitive labeling was a win-win for the company. “Together with our in-house canning line, pressure sensitive technology gives us the inventory management, operational control and flexibility needed in the competitive New Hampshire craft beer marketplace. With pressure-sensitive, we can afford to do more with smaller runs. That’s key to keeping our brand fun and relevant for our fans.”