In addition to loving what is inside a bottle of wine, I have always had an interest in what is on a bottle of wine – that is, the label design and the message that it communicates. Research studies suggest that, after price, labels are the second most important predictor of wine purchase intent. Clearly, a focus on label design is merited as wineries go to market. But it is more important now than ever in the past for labels to create a connection with consumers, specifically through the combination of colors and geometric layout. To catch a browsing consumer’s attention and then communicate a message about the brand in a fraction of a second is not easy to do. But it needs to be a focus; let’s look at two important considerations as wineries develop labels.
The Millennial generation (ages 14-31 in 2008) has different purchasing habits than Baby Boomers. Wine labels need to connect with this group if a brand is to be relevant to them in the 21st century marketplace. This generation is adventurous, understands value, socializes in large groups, and embraces technology including online shopping and social networking tools.
Basically, there will soon be 70 million potential customers who want to purchase products consistent with their lifestyle and image; they have the desire to try new wines and the power to spread the word about those that they like. To me, it’s a no brainer – it is imperative that wineries develop a strategy to garner some of the market share that the Millennial generation represents. A key tactic of that strategy needs to be label design.
The Millennial generation represents the single largest generation of Americans since the Baby Boomers and their purchasing power has been widely publicized. Many wineries, particularly New World producers in Australia and South America, have caught on and a visit to a local wine shop or supermarket tells that story. There are wine brands targeted to Millennials (there are even divisions of distributors that have been set up to focus on these particular brands) and the primary goal of the label is to create an emotional connection through the use of price/value cues that include color and imagery. There will always be a place for the iconic Bordeaux labels featuring majestic chateaus. I am not suggesting that the great Bordeaux houses trash all their labels and start anew. What I am saying, though, is that it is unlikely that Chateau Haut-Brion will be the gateway wine that a Millennial purchases and that the opportunity is too large to not focus on this generation.
Increase In Low-Touch Shopping Environments
Another important development in the marketplace is the changing retail landscape. Online shopping, club stores (they sell a few bottles of wine at Costco), and supermarkets represent huge channels but ones that are low-touch environments. In these environments shoppers often make decisions on their own with little or no input from so-called experts. Obviously, displaying a favorable review from a major wine publication or securing end cap or pallet placement in the store can trump a great label, but those are topics for another post. The time it takes to make a purchase decision is very quick. It is critical for a label to stand out and say “buy me” so that potential consumers can wade through the sea of bottles on the shelf.