Vinexpo is one of the many short cuts wine professionals can take to look at some of the latest industry trends. I spent four days talking to people, looking at packagings and tasting what was in the bottles of those new packaged wines, checking new wine brands and innovation.
Europe is still the land of terroirs and geographical identity, which very often makes for traditional labels and bottles. Most wine consumers and professionals are aware of the Bordeaux and Burgundy bottle shapes and are familiar with the design of the Bordeaux chateau or the Burgundy domain. Aware of the boredom of some labels, younger European wine producers are launching fun labels and bottles shape, such as the Royance brand.
Is it really what the new consumer is expecting? A recent webinar organized by the magazine Labels and Labeling addressed the issue of what an efficient label is in the competitive world of wine brands.
““The U.S. is now the No. 1 market in the world, and it is a target for imports,” [Wines & Vines editor Jim] Gordon said. “This sets the stage for great packaging and labels. More impressive than the market growth is the growth of U.S. wineries, which took off after the Millennium, even faster than sales. Our data shows more than 7,558 wineries (including brick and mortar and virtual wineries) in the U.S., and 529 total wineries in Canada.” Many of these wineries have more than one wine brand, amounting to an additional 3,150 extra brands, in all. ”
Nice and original labels are not only important for the domestic market, they are essential for international markets. Ubifrance, one of the leading French export body, presented a study on labels and bottles adapted to the Chinese market during Vinexpo. There were a few surprises. When American and European consumers favor an original label, Chinese drinkers are mostly attracted to traditional design and bottle that they even copy for their own bottles: the label of Carruades de Lafite, the second wine of Château Lafite in Pauillac, gave birth to a Chinese “version” for their Grand Dragon brand.
Seemingly traditionnaly designed bottles are more attractive to the Chinese consumers:
Fun and sophisticated labeling in the Western world, traditional style in China are the expression of the evolution of the local market. Consumers still in the learning curve are reassured by traditional values while more evolved and sophisticated drinkers can play with labels and bottles without worrying about the content of the bottle. They trust their own knowledge to enjoy their glass of wine.