What is Your Wine Label Communicating to Consumers?

By David M. Schneer, Ph.D./CEO

Part 2

It is a commonly-accepted principle that today’s wine consumers are increasingly experiential. Whereas wine consumers of yesteryear often relied upon a brand’s reputation or their own brand experiences to drive purchase decisions, today’s consumers are more likely to try new varietals, regions, and brands. They’re also consuming wine across more varied situations. Case in point (no pun intended): canned wines are now standard offerings at concerts, festivals, and sporting events.

In our last blog, we discussed how wine labels provide countless nonverbal opportunities to communicate what the brand and the liquid inside the bottle represent. As consumers become more motivated by the overall wine drinking experience, it is increasingly important that wine labels both clearly communicate the brand’s intended message and map to the consumer’s overall consumption experience.

Once you’ve decided you need consumer feedback to support your labeling decisions, reach out to a trusted research partner to get the ball rolling.  While it may be tempting to use DIY tools to secure some home-brewed feedback, try to resist that urge. Research professionals have been balancing the art and science of market research for years and are best equipped to design an objective study that gets you the valid and reliable data you need to justify such an important decision (and investment!).

Consider these steps before you engage your research partner:

  • Secure alignment with your internal teams on the need for consumer feedback as early in the design process as possible. Early team alignment is critical to the success of your research. It also ensures you’re engaging research partners early in order to identify precisely when in your design timeline such research should occur. Generally speaking, research embedded early in the design process provides guidance for timely design tweaks that will not adversely impact your launch schedule. It also improves the likelihood that your label will be well-received in the market.
  • Be able to articulate what you want your label to communicate. Any context you can provide your research partner will influence the research approach and improve the quality of the insights generated. For example, are you trying to fit a specific occasion niche? Do you want to launch a value price tier that will not degrade perceptions of your higher-priced selections? Do you want your wine label to convey tradition or something more modern?
  • Have a clear understanding of your intended audience. A clear definition will ensure your research dollars are leveraged to get feedback from the right folks. Are you trying to appeal to everyone, or is there a particular consumer segment you are trying to reach?
  • Be prepared to supply stimuli (visual examples of packages or labels) in a consistent format. We always tell our clients that it is critical to present labels on a level playing field. It is important to align on a display format, and work to create imagery that is consistent across all labels/packages tested. Should the images be simple close-ups of the labels themselves, full bottle shots so a consumer can see the foil and any additional labeling, or a combination of both? The answer depends on the specific labels you are testing and your overall research objectives.

A lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into wine production—from the farmers to the winemakers to the marketing team charged with getting bottles into consumers’ shopping carts. Don’t underestimate the power of consumer feedback embedded into your packaging design process. Call us anytime to discuss how we can help you evaluate your package or label designs.

Merrill Research—Experience You Can Count On.