Monika Elling, Founder and CEO Foundations Marketing Worldwide

Monika Elling, Founder and CEO Foundations Marketing Worldwide

We continue our Guest blogs this week with an article from Monika Elling, founder and CEO of New York based top specialist luxury good Marketing and Communications agency Foundations Marketing Worldwide. She talks to Paradise Rescued about the criticality of bottle and brand design.

“As part of what I do for a living, I have the good fortune of attending numerous wine tastings throughout the world.  Aside from being a fascinating snapshot of industry trends, these tastings provide a wonderful contextual opportunity for those of us looking to see what works and what no longer works in this business.

This is not the first article I’ve written on the theme…and it looks like I will be writing about it for some time to come.  Challenges abound in today’s wine industry.  From wholesaler consolidation, to importer issues, there is no rest for the weary.  But that’s another blog….

Back to the tastings.  It is alarming to see the many indistinctive, lackluster, ordinary, dated, cheesy, and even ugly wine bottle packages that can be found at any given tasting.  Significant data exists about correlation between good branding/packaging and PULL THROUGH.  Notice the word isn’t “sales”.  I have come to the conclusion that many wineries must somehow believe sales are complete once a wholesaler buys the wines, and not much thought goes towards what happens in a competitive retail or restaurant environment.

Hundreds of studies show that wine consumers, who are primarily women, seek a certain appeal — a “Look & Feel” — to wine bottles.  How is it possible so many wineries are still ignoring this?  Wine quality rarely matters when the packaging is doing a disservice to what is inside the bottle.  Wine quality becomes almost insignificant when no one is attracted enough to the bottle to pull it from the shelf.  Or in the sommelier’s case, to bring it to a table.

Merlot grapes one week before harvest in Hourcat Centre

Merlot grapes one week before harvest in Hourcat Centre

In some cases the packages would work, but not given the target pricing category.  It is a significant part of the brand and packaging strategy to get the pricing in line with costs as well as demographic targets.  Some wines could do well in broader markets, but are never going to make it out of the local scene due to sub-par packaging.

Just this week, I was invited to a WineOpinions survey comparing bottle packaging for known and unknown brands.  I was not tasting wines, just deciding on the appeal of the bottle and branding.  Not only was I making selections based on my own preferences, I was also looking at each wine with a consumer target in mind.  Some were quite good, others will never make it; one bottle was a complete fad, strictly for one-shot sales.

Large wine companies, industry leaders do indeed pay attention to the PULL THROUGH, and brand/packaging to maximize this element.  The challenge is clear for the rest of sector.  If wineries continue to have insular decision making on packaging and branding, results will continue to be less than optimal.

It is difficult to understand why this problem persists.  As a key element to the business, it is well worth having a professional approach to maximize the brand’s PULL THROUGH potential.  The nuance between good and great packaging is just that, yet can translate to thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars and more on the shelves.  Winemakers aren’t label designers.  Neither are  most winery owners. Expertise is just that, and mostly not found inside wineries.  For that matter, many design companies aren’t equipped to provide more than good technical skills.  It boils down to industry knowledge, competitive context, route-to-market expertise, all coupled with creative know-how.

Many wineries point out that they are selling reasonably well as they are.  How so?  What is the opportunity cost of losing sales to better branded/packaged wines in the same category?  This is indeed sometimes hard to quantify, and not many are out there measuring the data. Some argue the old adage of “why fix what isn’t (perceived to be) broken”?

Brand Paradise Rescued and  Cloud9 Cabernet Franc Bordeaux Supérieur

Brand Paradise Rescued and Cloud9 Cabernet Franc Bordeaux Supérieur

In the end, the consumer will dictate.  Should another brand with a similar price/quality wine come along in a fresher, more appealing package, the result will be obvious…and it will be too late for a debate.”

Thank you Monika. We love the work you do – thank you for your support, writing for us and helping us to see the way forward to creating a unique Paradise Rescued micro-brand.

If you would like to read some more of Monika’s articles, click here for her blog. And if you would like you to hear some more form Paradise Rescued, please subscribe to our newsletter below.