Think whisky packaging and what comes to mind?
Tartan patterns, shades of heather purple, oak-cask browns, copper-still hues, images of stags, pipers, dirks, royal crests and misty mountains.
Now think J&B, the fifth best-selling blended Scotch in the world, second only to Johnnie Walker, and what comes to mind? That iconic Emerald green bottle.
No, we aren’t mind readers (in case you’re wondering).
Whisky packaging has traditionally gravitated towards the conservative. Colour codes, typefaces and illustrations have invariably tended towards the traditional. Many Scotch whisky brands are well over a century old. Their logos, labels and bottle shapes are closely intertwined in the minds of their loyal consumers.
And although sales of whisky are healthier than ever (latest figures from the Scotch Whisky Association reveal that exports of single malt Scotch in the first six months of 2017 were up by 7% in value terms), there is a noticeable air of change in the consumer demographic and preference.
People are looking for new whisky styles, and this has resulted in innovative collaborations and experiments in the pursuit of ground-breaking flavour development. With new brands and new brand extensions coming into the market, whisky seems to be coming full circle.
But is all this translating into packaging? We believe it is. Some of the most progressive whisky brands understand that the time to innovate – the innovation window – is when the market is on the up. And innovation involves creating new options that serve the needs of the uncontested market space and deliver growth.
Here we look at three aspects of packaging that are being influenced by this new generation of whisky lovers and brands, and that we believe will grow to be trends in 2018.
New colour waves
The launch of David Beckham’s Haig Club
in its distinctive blue bottle marked a departure from the more traditional colour palette, and this isn’t the only whisky brand breaking with tradition.
Colour and less traditional fonts have started to appear on the shelves, and we believe this is only the start. Compass Box and Bruichladdich are great examples of the changes we’re seeing in whisky packaging.
Although the contents of a bottle are the reason why most people buy whisky, it’s important not to overlook the fact that premium whiskies will generally be in the home for longer and handled over a longer period than other spirits. Durability is key, but not enough. Consumers are demanding brands to reduce their environmental footprint. And the spirits industry has for the most part risen to the challenge. In the last few years, brands have set ambitious targets for the reduction of their environmental impact.
At Hunter, we are acutely aware of the critical role that packaging design and manufacture have on driving down the environmental impact. That’s why we have been working closely with the spirits sector and global partners to bring innovations in tooling and composite packaging to reduce packaging weight and increase the use of recycled materials. We expect the demand for more sustainable and durable whisky packaging to continue to grow in the years to come.
Never before has the reveal of a product played such a key role than today – the age of the powerful and magical unboxing video. Unboxing is a genre of viral videos where people quite literally unbox a product to get a feel for it. Many are user-generated videos, but brands are starting to get in on the action, too.
Unboxing is a growing phenomenon. Some reputable publications claim that it would take more than seven years to watch all the videos on YouTube with “unboxing” in the title. And if you thought unboxing videos were only for people who geek out over gadgets, think again. We’re seeing unboxing videos in just about every category – a search for unboxing whisky on YouTube returns more than 194k results.
Reveal and layering are key to achieving a polished unboxing video, and the traditional square box is definitely not the desirable packaging design. At Hunter, we have been looking at new opening and closure mechanisms for boxes, and new layering of materials that can deliver that photogenic effect that is needed to cut it on YouTube. We are excited about the results and are now looking for partners to take the prototypes to the production stage.
At Hunter, our expertise lies in our understanding of the power that packaging has to prompt consumers to reassess their perceptions of a brand. Our extensive experience in packaging innovation allows us to deliver solutions that tap into the powerful purchase motivations of gifting and collecting. Be it Father’s Day, Christmas or luxury Corporate Gifting, we deliver packaging solutions that meet the brief in a sustainable, timely and cost-efficient manner. Time and time again.
So give us a call or contact Jo to discuss your next whisky packaging project, and let us show you what we can do for your brand.