As wine cans begin to gain momentum, smart labeling strategies are more important than ever.
Much like its boxed cousin, canned wine is an idea that’s taken some time to grow on people — especially those concerned about quality. Although it’s been around for more than a decade now, canned wine has only more recently begun to be more widely accepted. Not surprisingly, it took a perception shift (nudged along by some clever packaging and marketing campaigns) to get people to jump on the canned wine wagon.
Thanks to better marketing, canned wine sales jumped 69% in 2018, making cans one of the fastest-growing alternative wine options on the market. Even so, only 50% of consumers said they have tried canned wine, according to a WICresearch survey. This means there is still huge potential for canned wine to reach a wider audience.
What does all of this mean for you? Maybe your company is already producing or selling canned wine, and you’re wondering whether to increase your investment. Perhaps you’re thinking about taking the leap, but concerned that this may be a fad. Let’s break it down to see where your opportunities lie and what pitfalls to avoid.
Canned Wine Benefits
To change public perception of canned wine being inferior in quality and less refined from an image perspective, pioneering manufacturers and wineries had their work cut out for them. Over time, they’ve been able to persuade people that the following benefits of canned wine made it worth consideration.
It doesn’t take a wine connoisseur to understand that carrying a wine bottle and glasses has some serious limitations. Before the greater availability of canned wine, on-the-go wine enthusiasts were often out of luck at the beach, pool, or ballpark. Now when situations call for cans, people have more options than beer alone when they want to pop open a beverage.
Canned wine offers the benefit of being lightweight, transportable, and non-breakable — all in a convenient, hand-held, sippable container. It also provides greater flexibility for nights at home, dates, and parties: if people want different beverages or a smaller serving size, canned wine means no one is left trying to polish off a whole bottle alone.
Green packaging makes for an excellent selling point, especially when looking to connect with millennials and 21+ Gen Zers. Canned wine is a win here since aluminum is recycled at a higher rate than glass. Plus, its lighter weight results in a smaller carbon footprint with fewer emissions during shipping.
Another feature that makes canned wine a worthy contender is that it’s generally more economical than bottled wine. Canned wine is typically young, which is usually cheaper than aged wine. This package works exceptionally well for fresh whites and rosés. Some say cans make an ideal container for the sparkling wines, coolers, and spritzers that are enjoying a resurgence, thanks in part to their low price point.
Add all of these benefits together, and you have a product that speaks to the modern culture of wine drinkers who have decided the can is cool again. Even sommeliers at high-end restaurants who are passionate about quality have started creating canned wines. Their hope is to get in step with the more casual attitude toward wine that’s emerging among younger drinkers.
“With cans, we embrace the artistry of making great wine, minus all the fuss.” - Ryan Harms, founder/owner of Union Wine Co, as quoted in Market Watch magazine.
Even with all of this good news, canned wine still has challenges to address in order to clinch its staying power.
One of the primary objections to canned wine is the concern that it won’t taste as good as its bottled counterpart. While younger generations and forward-thinking sommeliers may be willing to hop on board, it’s proving more difficult to convince baby boomers that canned wine is comparable in quality to bottled wine.
However, blind taste testing may make a convincing case, with several canned wines scoring in the 85-89 points (very good) on a 100-point scale. As with any product, quality will vary by brand. Some suggest that pouring the canned wine in a glass before drinking improves the taste.
Currently, canned wine is restricted to certain sizes by the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau, with the typical can containing about the same amount as a half bottle of wine. Consumers are interested in smaller, single-serving size cans, which are now sold only in multiples. If smaller cans are approved for individual purchase, some industry experts believe the strength of canned wine will continue to grow.
Another potential drawback is that canned wine is currently highly seasonable, performing much better in warmer weather and temperate climates. Industry experts are hopeful that the seasonal sales patterns may shift as canned wine becomes embraced by the mainstream, not only for its outdoor portability perks but as a viable year-round option.
Converting the positive momentum of canned wine from a potential fad to an enduring way that people enjoy wine is key to sustainability and future growth. As public perception changes and availability increases, more people are likely to give canned wine a try. So, if blind taste tests are correct — which show that gender and age were not a factor in the enjoyment of canned wine — it’s likely that the market will grow. In fact, one report suggests that “it is becoming clear to distributors, retailers, and consumers, that this time around wine-in-a-can is not a fad.”
Why Smart Marketing & Labeling Are Key Factors
With all of this in mind, the next step for your company is making sure that your canned wine is creatively and properly labeled so that it stands out on the shelf — especially as more and more competition enters the market. Given the uphill climb in canned wine’s quality perception, producing an impeccable label is extremely important. Since cans are new to the wine industry, it might also help to take a few pointers from beer companies who have been labeling cans for decades.
Investing in automated labeling technology will help your canned wine consistently look great while improving your efficiency. Pack Leader USA offers the equipment, best practices, and expertise you need, backed by decades of experience. We will come alongside your business, make recommendations, and help you work toward achieving your production goals.
A great place to start is with our free wine industry guide to labeling. We’re also happy to answer any specific questions about your operation and how you can make the most of the newest wine labeling technology.