Trying to save a few dollars can end up being expensive.
With lockdowns and quarantines, people have been enjoying their cocktails and drinks of choice at home, not at bars or pubs like they were a year ago. This shift, paired with generational differences, has seen the trend emerge of younger buyers gravitating to craft beers and spirits over wine. With wine's traditional target demographic of baby boomers entering retirement, the industry is pivoting resources and marketing efforts to win over younger customers to stay competitive and viable.
For winemakers willing to adapt, the millennial generation represents an area of opportunity. Even before COVID-19 started grinding the economy to a halt, lower-priced wines were beginning to gain traction among younger purchasers who have limited buying power. Alternative bottling and corking methods, including screw caps and even aluminum cans, which were traditionally seen as the hallmark of a bottom shelf budget wine, started appearing from more established and respected wineries to give consumers more flexibility. The packaging and unpacking experience of wine has become a selling point in itself, with wineries creating dazzling designs for both bottle and box that encourage sharing on social media.
As your winery works to win over and serve the next generation of wine drinkers, this is where preparation and focus on detail will prevent potential problems.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Buzzwords don't fool anyone. If your bottles have labels proudly displaying words like "handcrafted," "bold," or "finest," you're wasting valuable space. Those interested in purchasing wine generally would rather see information such as the region, the winemaker's name, green certifications, and information that gives the consumer an expectation or experience they'll have with your wine.
This may seem obvious, but don't let misspelled words appear on your labels. Whether you're catering to upper-crust boomers who will be turned off by such errors or social media conscious millennials who will be more than happy to share your typos online, a mistake on your label can cost you sales and your reputation.
Don't Use Cheap Glass
If you're bottling your wine, using inexpensive glass bottles may be tempting from a budget standpoint, but it often ends up costing more than it saves. Bottles sourced from cheaper suppliers can be inconsistently sized, irregular in shape, uneven, "out of round," or have crooked necks. Such bottles can make it difficult or impossible to apply labels, be incompatible with your corks or caps, and even break in your machines, which can result in downtime of your production line and even injuries for your workers.
Purchasing from a reputable, domestic supplier (or at least a supplier with a domestic arm) means you're more likely to get help if something goes wrong. Lead times and shipping costs for deliveries are far less, too. But no matter how good your supplier is, it's still your responsibility to make sure your bottles are compatible with your equipment and other supplies. A good wine paired with quality packaging speaks volumes to potential customers.
Match Equipment and Supplies
If you're trying to capture new demographics with easy-to-drink cans or pouches with built-in spigots, take extra care that you don't end up with an inferior product. Every change — including new packaging — requires testing at every step. Can your existing production line accommodate cans, pouches, screw tops, and any other packaging changes?
Start with the finished product in mind. Work with a reputable designer and use top-quality materials compatible with your equipment. You may need to consider buying or renting new equipment to handle the packaging changes. You don't want the headache of using the wrong equipment, which can cause scuffed labels, loose packaging, leaking seals, or broken/dented containers, again leading to poor brand representation and ultimately deterring sales.
Don't Create Confusion
Creating a unique label for your wine to differentiate your brand from others sounds like an obvious goal, but visual overlap does happen, resulting in expensive mistakes. Create a unique design language to set yourself apart and to make your wine look as special as it tastes. Beyond visual distinction between your wine and others, be sure that your wine varieties are also clearly separated, not just by price point, but by visual cues, helping customers easily identify products.
Packaging An Experience
While the pandemic has limited wine drinkers' ability to visit tasting rooms and restaurants, savvy producers have started looking to the packaging to help create a sense of occasion. Making wine boxes with stunning artwork, selling themed kits for specific holidays or events, or pairing bottles with items such as a custom glass or corkscrew gives a customer a feeling that the experience of drinking the wine begins well before they've ever taken a sip.
Packaging also means "packing properly." All this presentation means nothing if the bottle is in danger of breaking. Test all materials to validate durability and ship-ability, especially if you're ordering in bulk to keep costs down. And if you're shipping a wine that needs to stay chilled, the packaging must be able to withstand cold temperatures and potential condensation from ice packs.
Improving Your Operation with Pack Leader USA
As you pivot your marketing and packaging to grab the attention of millennial wine drinkers, keep the capabilities of your line in mind. If your packaging line equipment can't keep up with your packaging changes, it might be time to change the equipment. And remember, the faster your packaging line moves with efficiency and consistency, the more wine you can ship out for sale.
Check out Pack Leader USA's complete line of labelers for the wine industry to find the labeler that's perfect for you. We've also put together The Winemakers Guide to Wine Labeling Equipment to give you the advice you need to make an informed decision. Choosing a labeling partner with the right experience and expertise doesn't have to be a daunting task — we’re here to help.