VP of Global Sales at Multi Packaging Solution, JAMES CLARK, looks at how a revolution in spirits purchasing has driven an evolution in spirits packaging design…
Packaging plays an important role in underlying the value of a brand and in promoting a brand to new and established consumers. Packs offer huge opportunities for brand differentiation. The first impression is vital and then delivering a memorable opening experience through the clever use and combination of shape and finishes adds further impact. These attributes encourage the potential consumer to want to touch and engage with the product.
Despite uncertainty in the global economy, established spirits markets are managing to maintain recent sales levels and some markets, such as North America, are actually growing again. However, the main source of growth, supported by enormous marketing budgets, has been in emerging markets. Here, value growth continues to outstrip volume growth and this is a clear demonstration of consumer’s ‘trading up’ from local spirits to more premium, aspirational international brands. These new consumers are buying provenance and a brand’s outer packaging is part of that experience. The gift value offered by premium packaging has long been synonymous with several parts of the drinks market, such as Champagne and Scotch whisky, and is now being recognised in up-and-coming areas such as rum and gin.
Recently there have been a number of exciting new packaging developments. The market is increasingly using board-to-board lamination which effectively combines two pieces of cartonboard to provide a strong construction. In addition, glued inner folded flaps, that remove the ‘raw’ edge of the unprinted cartonboard, present a quality finish for premium spirits brands. Varnish effects such as soft touch or silk screen textures which mimic naturally occurring materials such as leather, stone or wood grain as well as in-line reticulation are enhancing the tactile qualities of packs. 3D and holographic print that provide depth and the impression of movement are also in demand for gifting and brand extensions.
The movement to ‘craft’ brands that has swept through the beer industry is making its presence firmly felt in the spirits sector too. Consumers have made a point to move away from large, mass market brands to more specialist products. Consumers have wanted to be associated with niche brands that they feel better reflect their personalities.
As well as developing growth in new markets, the sector is extending its consumer appeal beyond its traditional older male audience. This is best exemplified by this year’s launch of Jane Walker, a fitting companion to the striding character of Johnnie Walker. Recent advertisements reflect this push to appeal to a female audience as well as younger consumers. This has seen the introduction of smaller pack sizes to encourage these new audiences to trial and taste the vast variety of spirits and flavours now on offer. Pack styles and materials have all played a part to convey an industry that’s understands the personality and values of its consumers.
It is these new audiences that are pushing the environment and more specifically, in relation to packaging, recycling up the agenda. The Scotch Whisky Association has pledged that all whisky packaging will be fully recyclable by 2020. This has seen brands look more closely at the materials they use and whether these can be easily separated for recycling and reuse rather than being lost to landfill.
Over the past few years, there have been developments in spirally wound and composite tubes that have further elevated this high-quality packaging format. The tube can be decorated in a limitless range of colours, enhanced by a foil, varnished or embossed finish. Material choice and outer print finishes offer the choice of a smooth silky touch or the contrast of a tactile raised image. The appearance of a tin-plate container or the novelty of a tri-part tube are all possible. Adding an aperture to the pack provides product visibility, allowing the purchaser to see the product as well as the front and reverse of the bottle’s label. The pack’s construction helps to maintain its strength despite the aperture, and the pack now offers possibilities for many other products and markets.
MPS provides a full range of printed products to the alcoholic drinks sector including self-adhesive and wet-applied labels, folding cartons, rigid boxes, composite tubes and shaped boxes. Its capabilities include a variety of complex and intricate finishes utilising lithographic, flexographic and the latest digital printing techniques on a range of substrates including board, paper and fluted materials. Over the last year, the company has installed some of the world’s most sophisticated print-related equipment especially suited to the demands of the drinks market. This has been complemented by investment in a new state-of-the-art production plant at Arbroath, Scotland dedicated to rigid box production.
This dedication to protect and promote the world’s great brands will see MPS help lift the value of premium spirits for years to come.