The Deciding Factor

by Gina Angie on 10/27/2011 | 4 Minute Read

Editorial photograph

Liquor store sales are thriving and will continue to do so as long as the economy continues to sputter along at a lethargic rate. The increase in alcohol transactions has resulted in fierce competition at retail, which is raising the demand for novel bottle designs that disrupt shelf clutter.

In the past twenty years, the liquor business has boomed. The Distilled Spirits Council suggests liquor revenue climbed in the United States, from $18.7 billion dollars in 2009, reaching $19.1 billion dollars in 2010. Furthermore, spirit sales are predicted to rise., a market research firm, suggests liquor sales for 2012 are projected to reach $245 billion dollars worldwide. In 2007, William Grant and Sons surpassed other liquor companies with an overall growth of 30.4%. However, globally, in 2007, Diageo PLC was the leader in liquor sales with total revenues reaching over $14 billion dollars. In 2011, Pernod Ricard took the world by surprise when the company experienced an overall sales growth of 12%, putting the corporation in the number one spot for the worlds largest spirits maker. Overall, leading distillers including

Diageo PLC, Pernod Ricard SA, Brown Forman Corporation and Fortune Brands Inc. have seen a total growth of 10.9% in 2010.

As a result, when a consumer walks into a liquor store, they become bombarded by an abundance of brand names and varieties. Research suggests, when faced with a large selection of products, consumer’s final purchase decision is based on what a brand exemplifies and how it resonates with the consumers’ identity. Therefore, it is essential for a brand to revamp its image and leverage the overall equity while creating a desire among mass-market consumers.

When designing liquor bottles, three components can inspire and focus the design: the product heritage, an iconic symbol and the quality of the product. In order to chart the best course, all three variables are first examined. Developing a deeper understanding of the product will allow managers to further contribute to a design, which will connect the consumer to the merchandise.

A designer should embed a brands values and communicate those standards through the logo, image, primary and secondary packaging as well as in advertising campaigns, all of which contribute to gaining consumer attention and leading to acquisition.

It’s worth examining some specific examples of creating these standout designs, whether new to the market or redesigns of consumer favorites. In our experience at Hirst Pacific, becoming immersed in a brands universe and their unique core characteristics is key to getting it right. First we’ll look at two projects we’ve recently redesigned for Brown Forman, Herradura tequila and Finlandia vodka.

In designing Herradura the objective was to create an elegant, premium design that focused on the brand’s icon, the horseshoe. Working with the guidelines provided by Brown Forman, Hirst Pacific Ltd was able to use the brands history and icon as inspiration to produce the creative concept. The final design expresses the authenticity found in traditional Mexican glass making. It was important for Brown Forman to convey Herraduras’ premium brand qualities to its core consumers. Colored ribbons draped over the bold black cap distinguish the collection of aged tequilas. The overall design is bold while still embracing quality and the important heritage of the brand.

Finlandia Vodka was designed to embody the pure glacial water that is found in Finland and the strategy was to focus on the quality and purity of the product. Glacial ice became the inspiration for the final tall and slender bottle. The peaks and valleys provide a memorable tactile experience while through the magic of refraction the glass comes alive and dances with reflected light. Recounting its origin, the organic icy form with its deep ice crystal push up in the base glistens like the ice shimmering in the land of the midnight sun.

We aren’t the only one’s seeing the importance of heritage, iconic symbols and quality when it comes to design. Chivas Brothers also recently revamped The Glenlivet single malt Scotch bottles, which included four variations. The strategy for this redesign was to keep core attributes but with an updated contemporary and elegant look. The cartouche, which dates the brand back to 1824 and is a strong reference point for consumers, was given a more prominent position on the bottle to highlight the heritage. Adjusting the bottle dimensions gave it a stronger presence, fitting for a strong drink such as Glenlivet. Recognized as a premium quality whiskey, the new packaging is meant to position it in the premium category and enhance the on-shelf appearance. In addition to the bottle redesign, the secondary packaging was also updated. The 12 Year Old and 15 Year Old have luxury cartons to increase gift appeal, and the 18 year old and 21 year old is in a significantly upgraded permanent gift box.

Liquor companies are demanding original, new or renewed packaging design. The need for a competitive edge on the shelf is as strong with established brands as with newcomers to the market. This continuous progression is providing brands with limitless opportunities to create innovative concepts for their consumers and continued growth for themselves.

Product and packaging designer Kenneth Hirst has provided the creative vision behind great beverage designs such as Pepsi Naturals, Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection, Herradura Tequila and Finlandia Vodka. Hirst has also been responsible for many other designs in consumer goods product and packaging campaigns.

Ken Hirst

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