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Creating Labels that Stand Out on the Shelves

Measuring design effectiveness with the "Opt-in Design Category Audit"
by Kerana Todorov
August 10, 2018

How does a winery manage to create a label that stands out on the shelves in stores hundreds of new labels are launched every year?

First obtain customer feedback, according to Nielsen.

“We know that objective feedback is really critical,” Nielsen vice president Jessica Gaedeke said.

On Thursday, Gaedeke and Brad Mayer, senior vice president of marketing for Seattle-based Precept Wine, presented evidence-based case studies on Precept Wine-owned brands packaging. They were among the presenters at Wines & Vines’ annual Packaging Conference in Yountville.

Nielsen in 2016 launched a program to measure design effectiveness called the “Opt-in Design Category Audit.”

Mayer explained how it made minor revisions to the labels of its brand Waterbrook over the years. However, the company’s sales staff reported lagging sales. Distributors in 2016 suggested to update the label.

Mayer wanted first to do the research before redesigning a new label. “I really wanted to make sure that before we spend all of the time on the resources in developing the new label, that the label was actually really the problem,” Mayer said.

The research, as it turned out, showed the design was not the culprit. Customers who were surveyed for the study praised the design of the Waterbrook label, including its logo and the fonts.

The study concluded the culprit was inconsistent pricing across the country, Mayer said. Adjusting the prices lead to a 7 percent dollar growth for the brand across varietals. Chardonnay is the top varietal.

In another case, Precept Wine boosted sales by making small adjustments to the label of The Expedition, a lower-priced wine of Canoe Ridge. The changes, based on customer feedback, included changing The Expedition’s logo; printing the text on the label bigger, purple and in a more legible font; and placing the seal in a less prominent spot.

Its Rosés sales grew by 14 percent nationally over one year. Sales increased by 29 percent in Washington state.

The company also researched ways to breathe new life into the Canoe Ridge brand. Sales had been lackluster even though the wine had been awarded scores in the low 90s. An answer was to design a new label based on travel posters from the 1920s.

The move resulted in an uptick of 11 percent in dollar sales and overwhelmingly positive responses from wholesalers and consumers, Mayer said.

Gaedecke said the new label was clearly a “winner.”

In yet another case, Precept, which owns labels in different states, grew its New Mexico-based sparkling wine brand, Gruet, by revamping the brand’s packaging. The goal was to expand Gruet’s shelf presence. Precept Wine wanted to develop a label to spoke to the French roots, Mayer said. It also need to be modern, classy and elegant.

The new label stood out. “The new design was much more cohesive,” Gaedeke

“You’re competing with many, many bottles and other package formats as well. So standing out, Gaedeke said, “is so, so important to have,” Gaedeke said.

Precept Wine also revised its strategies to sell its label “Browne,” a wine inspired from Precept Wine CEO Andrew Browne’s grandfather. His grandfather, William Bitner Browne, was a Harvard Law School graduate, World War II intelligence officer, and avid fisherman.

Changes included displaying memorabilia from the Browne family in tasting rooms in Seattle and Walla Walla. Browne saw a 38 percent in wine club membership since the Seattle tasting room opened earlier this year. Sales grew by 53 percent nationally, according to the company.

Precept Wine has also tried to draw more business by targeting its canned sparkling roses packaging toward new customer groups.

For instance, the company donated $2 for every House Wine case sold in rainbow colored cans to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.

Consumers loved the multicolored the can. It expanded distribution in bars and restaurants, Mayer said.
The company also created a camouflaged-inspired can to target men. Camouflage is also a trend in the fashion industry.

House Wine, Mayer said, has grown from being the 16th largest brand in the canned wine space nationally to being the fifth largest in the country.

It is also the number one canned wine space in Washington state with 46 percent market share, he said.
The main take-aways from Thursday’s presentation are:

° Do not fix what is not broken.
° Even slight evolutions such as improved label legibility can have a big impact.
° Validate a bold move – make significant changes after validating these moves.
° Ensure packaging stands out.
° Bring story to live by telling it on various platforms such as advertising and in-person experiences.
° Attract new consumers or boost new usage through packaging.

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Lincoln Theater on Thursday hosted Wines & Vines' Packaging Conference. The event drew more than 400 people and 45 vendors. Photo by Kerana Todorov

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