The role of wine labels in selling wine has increased significantly over the past three decades.
“In the ‘70s and ‘80s, not a very designed label would not off-put a person, if they were looking for a specific type of wine,” said Paul Tincknell of Healdsburg-based branding consultancy Tincknell & Tincknell. “They were walking the shelves, looking for a French chablis. It didn’t matter how ordinary the label was. But nowadays, because the competition is so fierce in the U.S. wine market the label does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of making the sale.”
And like they’re changing the way companies in a number of industries do business, millennials are impacting the wine packaging design. This demographic is more interested in how products are packaged, branded and marketed than previous generations, Tincknell said.
“They understand they’re being marketed to,” he said. “That’s part of the appeal. They want to see people being clever and catching their interest in a direct way.”
Treasury Wine Estates, whose Napa-based Americas group produces a number of North Coast brands such as Beringer and Chateau St. Jean, is amping up the tech to satisfy this desire for clever marketing and brand story-telling.
“It helps the consumer make the decision at the shelf, which we know is the most important,” Michelle Terry, chief marketing officer, told the Business Journal. “A well-designed label that stands out is one of the most important investments a winery can make.”
In July, the Australian company released a smartphone app called Living Wine Labels that recognizes bottle labels put in front of the camera then delivers an augmented-reality experience. The first brand set up to work with the app was the newly launched 19 Crimes. Pointing the phone camera at the label reveals stories of British criminals of yesteryear.
After more than 1.3 million app downloads and double-digit sales growth from 19 Crimes, Treasury’s AR label experience expanded at the beginning of this year to four other brands: The Walking Dead, produced in conjunction with the hit television show and graphic-novel series; Beringer Brothers; Chateau St. Jean; and Gentlemen’s Collection.
Pointing the phone at the Walking Dead label will bring up video of characters, and two characters on bottles put side by side will interact with each other. The Beringer Brothers label will come alive with stories of the brand’s long heritage in Napa Valley. Chateau St. Jean winemaker Margo Van Staaveren talks about her approach. Gentlemen’s Collection provides tips for being a modern man.
Retailers have been helping with promotion of the new AR app with store displays encouraging the download of the app and by posting about it on their social media.
An introductory video for the app on Facebook has been viewed 19 million times and shared 25,000 times, Terry said. Over 2,000 Facebook videos of consumers using the app have been posted.
Treasury’s isn’t the only AR venture for the wine business. Petaluma-based Paragon Label last year rolled out its Out of the Bottle augmented-reality service, which uses Apple iOS and Google Android apps by that name to connect video and other content to labels on the store shelf.
Wine labels must be considered as part of the overall marketing campaign, and that effort is becoming more integrated and digital, according to Christine Martin, owner and creative director of Revel Brand Design in Healdsburg.