FOR more than just looks

Viewpoint: Wine

The power of labels

Even if we don't want to admit it, we've all been tempted at one time or another to grab a bottle of wine off the store shelf just because of the label. 

From giant New World brands, who have wine in every major supermarket, to ‘artisan’ wines, of which less than 5000 bottles are made each year, there is only one visible means of communicating a wine’s character – the label. 


Today, a wine's label is essentially a means of encouraging people pick up a bottle without tasting it, in a sea of competition and often at a price premium. For example, there are any number of Pinot Noirs to choose from and, to the average consumer, they all taste pretty much the same and they come in the same shaped bottle. So it’s down to the label to engage, influence and in our minds provide a flavour for what’s inside.

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The break with tradition

While most Old World wines reflect their heritage by keeping the same label year after year – steeped in the region’s traditional formality – the New World has been marketed without any historical or regional pedigree to display. As a result, New World labels have been free of the constraints of the past and they’ve taken risks and reinterpreted what wine is all about to their advantage.


The most significant opportunity wine brands have capitalised on in recent years has been the millennial consumers, who aren't tied to any past wine traditions or formalities. Millennials are happy to experiment with different tastes and the majority choose wine based on package appeal – attracted to ‘spirited’, ‘up-to-date` and ‘colourful’ designs.


And so it’s no surprise that today the shelves are covered with colourful, highly-designed, provocative images and humorous typography. It looks and feels like many are taking advantage of the moment. And some to shift wine at a premium. This in-turn has developed a level of scepticism in the consumers mind, as often not all that’s been perceived on the outside is delivered in the drinking.


And so we ask ourselves, what is the longevity of this trend and where will things go from here as the market matures. And in turn, how might the rise of online shopping also change things.


Old world, New World, Digital world

Social media is increasingly influential; 54% who answered the 2014 Gallo Consumer Wine Trends Survey said they engage in discussions about wine on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. And in the 2015 Gallo Consumer Wine Trends Survey 51% said they would be encouraged to try a new wine if it was recommended on Social Media.

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And so it’s hard to ignore that worth-of-mouth (WoM) is an important part of the purchasing journey, especially as purchasing a bottle of wine can be overwhelming and somewhat intimidating for many people. WoM is trusted above all other forms of marketing by consumers and a considerable amount of WoM wine marketing is happening online – not just via peer-to-peer and online retailers, but also through any number of wine apps and sites that are specifically designed to help consumers choose wine wisely.


So with all this online WoM activity, how can the humble label help seal the deal – without the physical cues of quality like foiling, embossing, varnishing and so much more. And how can wine brands capitalise on this new landscape.


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It’s an exciting time for the wine label 

Wine labels at face value have opportunity to change and adapt to stand out in the online world. But there’s an ever increasing range of digital tools that can also be applied to the humble label to provide a more in-depth consumer experience. 


For example, Augmented Reality has the power to bring a wine label to life, enabling consumers to engage with the product pre-purchase, in a new way and on a completely new level. This could simply be a way to capture attention, but with more thoughtful application this technology has the potential to deliver much more meaningful experiences.


Who said you should never judge a wine by its label.

We think that’s perhaps a bit shortsighted. At the end of the day, a wine’s taste is the most important aspect for repeat purchases. However that shouldn’t dismiss the fact that a wines label can influence an initial purchase, help with visual recall and at times it may also even influence the enjoyment of the wine. And when done really well, a wine label also has the potential to communicate a feeling, tell a story and capture the essence of the product inside in genuine and engaging ways. 


Pretty strong stuff indeed. And we’re looking forward to seeing how the humble wine label evolves in these exciting times. Cheers!


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