Does the label matter?

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alejandra anderson
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Does the label matter?

#1 Post by alejandra anderson » August 22nd, 2010, 1:23 am

Is it me or just how much wine is sold out there because of the label design as opposed to the quality of the juice thats in it? I have been a rep for a few years now and have sold some great wines that have some so-so labels and a lot (not all) of my accounts will not take in a wine if the label design is not good. Some have confessed that they dont care about the quality of the wine, that the price and label design are what matters.
I can also sadly say that I could easily compare my best selling wine to kool-aid, however, it had an interesting label so it flew off the shelves. Is is just what I have experienced personally, or is this the reality of the market these days? Any thoughts?

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Terence T-Bone Livingston
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Re: Does the label matter?

#2 Post by Terence T-Bone Livingston » August 22nd, 2010, 7:59 am

Yes, very important for retail sales. People (esp. women) are very visual, and will choose something that makes them feel good, even if what's inside is "evil and dirty!" ha ha

There have been many studies on this. Men buy more on points / reviews / scarcity. Women buy on labels, names.

No wonder we understand each other so well!

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Re: Does the label matter?

#3 Post by GregT » August 22nd, 2010, 10:24 am

Went into a store run by a Chinese woman in a Chinese community in NYC. Asked who bought the wine - she said that she did. It was one of the most eclectic groups of wines I've ever seen. So I let her taste some wine and she passed. Said it was sour. A week or so later I returned with more samples. Same thing. This went on for about six weeks and during that time we got to be pretty friendly.

I even showed her some sweet wine, which she also passed on, even though she liked it. Finally I asked how she had picked any of the wine in the store, since it was all "sour". It's wine after all.

She said that in the community, people didn't really know wine and neither did she. But it was considered chic to take a bottle over to someone's house when you were visting. So she bought based on the label. If it had beautiful colors, it would be an easy sell and she sold a lot of wine. But all based on the label and the beauty of the colors.

Taking it one step farther, we had a wine that we imported under 2 different labels. Exact same wine, same bottle, same everything, but the labels were different. One was black with some small red lettering indicating the variety, the brand, etc. The other labels were solid colors with white lettering, but the colors were very bright and there was a different color for each variety. In the Hispanic community there was no contest. Every time I offered the wine, they took the black labels without hesitation, complimenting me on the great label.

Nobody else wanted them. One high-volume store took both labels and put them on the shelves side by side. He liked the black but his kids liked the colored labels and they decided to test them. The colors outsold the black better than 2 to 1. The colors just made it really easy to remember the wine, both for customers and shop owners. They'd order two cases of yellow, six cases of blue, five cases of orange, and so on.

So yeah - labels REALLY matter.

And in some communities, if it says "Latour" on the label, that helps too.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#4 Post by BobMilton » August 22nd, 2010, 10:39 am

One of my favorite wineries in Santa Ynez has rather ugly labels - red lettering on a black background. Very hard to read. That's got to hurt their sales in a store.

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Re: Does the label matter?

#5 Post by J Wei » September 8th, 2010, 7:19 pm

GregT wrote: And in some communities, if it says "Latour" on the label, that helps too.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#6 Post by Richard Leland » September 8th, 2010, 8:55 pm

I think two important factors are neighborhood and target audience.

My shop is in a pretty wealthy area and when my customers spend $25-$50 on a bottle of wine to serve at their next dinner party or bring to a friend's house they want the label to be classy, elegant, and more often than not, understated. Bright colorful labels don't go over well around here and can be a very hard sell. The same for labels that look like they were designed by the winemaker's teenage daughter after she got an "A" in her 10th grade art class. Years ago I fell in love with a wine from the Washington State winery L'Ecole No. 41, bought a bunch but couldn't sell it for love or money. Haven't bought it since. I also won't buy wine from a tiny Zinfandel producer in Sonoma who took great offense when I told him (tactfully, I thought) that his wine was terrific but that he might want to give some thought to cleaning up his label a bit.

On the other hand .... I've got a friend with a wine shop across the Bay from mine who says his customers don't give damn what the label looks like as long as the wine tastes good and doesn't cost more than $15.00.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#7 Post by Scott B a r b e r » September 9th, 2010, 3:12 am

I spent a while in the art business before getting into wine and so I'm very visually inclined. Having worked in both on and off premise I have noticed label designs that work in either venue.

It seems that wineries that aim their market more toward on-premise restaurant sales tend to go toward more refined labels and often go for dark colors, especially black, which look good on tables in restaurants. Notice the number of high-end cabernets with embossed labels etc. like the ridiculous new Rubicon bottle. There is a certain consumer that cares a lot about people noticing what's on their table (especially here in Dallas).

Unfortunately, these designs are often terrible in wine shops because they vanish in racks. If you look across a row of wine racks the black labeled wines look like the missing teeth in a hockey player's smile. Browsing customers will skip right over them without noticing them and go for a white label or a colored one quite often. Of course, higher priced wines are often separated from the main inventory where a slicker looking bottle design has less competition and more of a wow factor. A perfect example would be the distinctive white label/capsule Chappellet Signature bottle vs. the flashy black PHEV bottle.

I would expect that this has been carefully studied by marketing folks, what hasn't, and they know their target market when they design the bottle/label. It's interesting that many of the most successful commercial brands have very distinct packaging that is easily recognizable at a distance (Silver Oak Alex, Caymus, Rombauer, Cakebread, Sonoma Cutrer, Duckhorn). They all seem to have found designs that look good on tables yet stand out from a crowded lineup of wines. It obviously works for them because they aren't selling because of the superior juice in the bottle. The same is true in the heavily marketed world of Champagne where very few Growers can match the slick package designs of houses like Roederer, P-J or Veuve Clicquot.

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Re: Does the label matter?

#8 Post by benjamin laird marshall » September 9th, 2010, 7:44 am

I think label design matters a great deal. I run the wine list for a restaurant and used to work for a distributor. When I bring three or four bottles to a table for their consideration, I have a pretty good idea which one they will choose. Older male guests seem to prefer a white label with clear easy to read print. Many of our female guests seem to purchase wines with animal themed names and labels (Duckhorn, Frogs Leap, etc.). Younger male guests seem to buy wines in the large ego bottles ( ok not label, but still packaging ). Obviously these are generalizations.

When I was in the distribution end of things, the Yellowtail inspired animal labels moved really briskly in the groceries and the wine in the bottle was irrelevant. The cuter the label, the better it sold. Also popular were tree themed labels.

Byron Pinot moved much better after they changed their label. So did Justin. I cannot give away Foley Claret due to the incredibly negative reaction to the label.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#9 Post by Bob Wood » September 9th, 2010, 4:57 pm

BobMilton wrote:One of my favorite wineries in Santa Ynez has rather ugly labels - red lettering on a black background. Very hard to read. That's got to hurt their sales in a store.
You mean like this? Good wine. Bad label. [snort.gif]

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Re: Does the label matter?

#10 Post by Phillip Cobb » September 9th, 2010, 5:07 pm

Read a bit on work of Louis Cheskin. He worked in CPG and proved on more than a few occasions that to most consumers a product is the package + its contents, not just the contents or functionality.

I have no doubt this happens in wine, and would consider a person's knowledge of the bottle's romance/story/pedigree often part of the "package" too.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#11 Post by Bob Wood » September 9th, 2010, 5:22 pm

FWIW, I think Far Niente's label is one of the worst I've ever seen, but there must be something going on related to perceived value since the wines are so expensive.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#12 Post by DCowell » September 9th, 2010, 5:25 pm

My wife has been known to let me buy more of a wine if it has a pretty label.

I'll take anything I can get.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#13 Post by Ken V » September 10th, 2010, 2:00 pm

benjamin laird marshall wrote:.... I cannot give away Foley Claret due to the incredibly negative reaction to the label.
As someone who has been buying and drinking wine for 35 years, I don't think I'm all that affected by the label. In fact, I rarely see the label when I buy since I mostly buy on the Internet. But every time I look at a Foley label (who's wines I really like) I think WTF? WTF were you thinking?

And Bob is so different from that label. They should change their label to a photo of his friendly face, or of his wife's pretty and friendly face. I bet they would sell a lot more wine.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#14 Post by Ken V » September 10th, 2010, 2:15 pm

Don't tell me a lot more women wouldn't buy his wine with this label:

Image



Or men with this label:
Kelly.jpg
(The woman on the left, not the man on the right!)

Or your gender of preference as applicable.

Instead of this label:
Image
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Re: Does the label matter?

#15 Post by mattbillet » September 10th, 2010, 3:39 pm

That guy on the right is Robert Zahn aka "BZ" the most successful wine rep in MA. He is also a hell of a nice guy... and happens to share KVastola's taste for barolo!

Just a bit of trivia... [highfive.gif]

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Re: Does the label matter?

#16 Post by BobMilton » September 10th, 2010, 4:16 pm

Bob Wood wrote:
BobMilton wrote:One of my favorite wineries in Santa Ynez has rather ugly labels - red lettering on a black background. Very hard to read. That's got to hurt their sales in a store.
You mean like this? Good wine. Bad label. [snort.gif]

Image
Exactly the winery I had in mind. How you see that in a wine store I'll never know.

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Re: Does the label matter?

#17 Post by dteng » September 12th, 2010, 9:48 am

I would think label is a more important factor for the general public/novices buying wine, and not so much to the members of this board (who are a minority).
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Re: Does the label matter?

#18 Post by Randy Sloan » September 13th, 2010, 9:46 am

The answers are in the thread.

To some people, it doesn't matter at all.
To some people, it can drive a sale.
Some stores see a response to a label design, others do not.

So the question is why would a winery (or any business) overlook potential business by having either a crappy, or at least indifferent, label design?
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Re: Does the label matter?

#19 Post by alejandra anderson » September 13th, 2010, 1:36 pm

Randy Sloan wrote:The answers are in the thread.

To some people, it doesn't matter at all.
To some people, it can drive a sale.
Some stores see a response to a label design, others do not.

So the question is why would a winery (or any business) overlook potential business by having either a crappy, or at least indifferent, label design?
I was wondering the same so this is precisely why I posted this thread!

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Re: Does the label matter?

#20 Post by Jerry Izzo » April 30th, 2011, 7:55 am

Hmmm. . .labels. . .

Truth? They matter more than they should from a retail perspective. However, is that such a bad thing? Let's be honest with each other; how many times have we all been caught in a dusty aisle, in the back of a wine shop with two intriguing bottles in our hands and only the budget for one? What do we do at this point? Me, I pick the more attractive of the labels. I believe that you can decipher subtle cues (and at times, not so subtle) as to what's in the bottle from how the winery/winemaker/importer decides to dress the bottle. For instance, does the label look like an etching? Is the picture of a vineyard? A chateau? Is the label devoid of image, but simplistic and featuring antiquated script? I assume these types of labels are designed to equate their products with more traditional flavors, techniques, styles, philosophies and intent. On the flipside, does the label feature bold colors (and are specific colors linked to specific varietals. . .always the mark of a quality wine)(kidding), are there cute animals on the label, is a pun involved in the title (as in. . .seven deadly zins, cardinal zin, it's zinfully delicious, zin it to win it, etc.)(ok, I made those last two up)(but I waited soooo long to use them)? I assume these types of wines reflect their labels. I expect the wines to be fun, flamboyant, simple and easily enjoyed, but without the need for any contemplation. Not bad wines. Just not my type of wines.

Is this a fool-proof method? Nope. I still get surprised by wines. Some traditional labels house some very "new age" wines and vice versa, but it is the best method I have discovered so far.

Also, I think its important to remember that although wine consumption in this country is on the rise, most people don't have the time, inclination, interest or culture to invest in wine knowledge. It is easier to navigate the scary imported wine aisles of the local retailer according to label style, than it is to actually do the research. And that is in no way a criticism, just an observation. If everyone learned about wine, I would be out of a job.

So, in short. . .yep, I think you are dead on about labels being a big deal. But, I guess I am in support of that.

By the way. . .is this THE Alejandra Anderson? Keeper of the tightly wound "Ars Epica"?

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Does the label matter?

#21 Post by alejandra anderson » May 7th, 2011, 8:33 pm

@jerry, Yes! Decant that Ars Epica!!! Its pretty tight but no need to hold onto that wine (unless you want to). good to see you on wine berserkers. Let's taste some day soon.

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Re: Does the label matter?

#22 Post by Scott VZ » May 10th, 2011, 7:23 pm

Branding (I hate that word, but it's really an all-encompassing gerund of the hell that is consumerism, so I am forced to use it.) is the study of product/packaging/marketing elements of a product that allows the manufacturer to place their product within certain consumer circles. You can pick up a $7 bottle of no-name shiraz and hold it up to a $7 bottle of yellow tail, and be able to sell the yellow tail simply through the label and the name because of the marketing, gimmickry, and label design. There's a reason that a ton of Aussies started putting mascots on their wine after they found out that it sells, just like there's a reason that people don't want a wine with a screw top because they're afraid of the message it'll send to the people that they're dining with.

For example in a different sector, Apple spent millions of dollars generating manufacturing technologies to reduce the fillet on the corners of the iPod case down as small as has been seen in the industry. The result was an exterior product packaging that was slick, smooth, heavier, and without the feel of part lines that other, easier to use and higher capacity mp3 players had. They then played up the visuals in ads, put product placement in the right circles (Skinny Girl Margarita anyone?) and created the right air of notoriety and elitism to garner huge profits. It all started with the packaging. If they didn't have a product that FEELS like it's worth more, it never would have taken off.

I'm doing a study for my store's website currently, and packaging certainly is a big part of the wine business. If you know what certain people are looking for, then you can adjust your product accordingly, and if you want to expand your product into new markets you can change your product's appearance and notoriety through ads and packaging to attract the type of consumer you want... though in the end, if you want to sustain your business, you have to have a quality product. A shame that most people don't know quality wine.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#23 Post by M A T T H A R T L E Y » May 12th, 2011, 1:28 pm

I always go back to consumer packaged goods...wine is a CPG. So are skittles, Coca-Cola, little debbie snack cakes etc etc.

Rest assured that the people over at skittles have a team of people who spend all day, every day, worrying about their packaging...

Wine is the same way...if you are not constantly worried about your label and package, how it can be better, how it is being received in the market place, how it stacks up to the competition...you are doing yourself a serious disservice...

Labels and packaging are just as important as the juice in the bottle...
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Re: Does the label matter?

#24 Post by Scott VZ » May 12th, 2011, 11:30 pm

M A T T H A R T L E Y wrote:Labels and packaging are just as important as the juice in the bottle...
Importance is in the eye of the consumer. There's a reason Franzia is the #1 selling wine.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#25 Post by Dan Hammer » May 13th, 2011, 5:17 am

Ken V wrote:
benjamin laird marshall wrote:.... I cannot give away Foley Claret due to the incredibly negative reaction to the label.
As someone who has been buying and drinking wine for 35 years, I don't think I'm all that affected by the label. In fact, I rarely see the label when I buy since I mostly buy on the Internet. But every time I look at a Foley label (who's wines I really like) I think WTF? WTF were you thinking?

And Bob is so different from that label. They should change their label to a photo of his friendly face, or of his wife's pretty and friendly face. I bet they would sell a lot more wine.
Like Adelsheim. They have nice labels, some that feature women.

Just as an aside to this conversation, when I bring a bottle to dinner (as a guest at your home or at a restaurant), everyone expects the contents of said bottle to be good (since my non-geek friends think I know about wine).
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Does the label matter?

#26 Post by Jboonsook » May 13th, 2011, 7:11 am

DCowell wrote:My wife has been known to let me buy more of a wine if it has a pretty label.

I'll take anything I can get.
As lame as that sounds. I will have to second that. Has happened to me on numerous occasions. If the winery we were visiting had dogs and kids of the winemaker around then it was even better.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#27 Post by M A T T H A R T L E Y » May 13th, 2011, 8:01 am

Scott VZ wrote:
M A T T H A R T L E Y wrote:Labels and packaging are just as important as the juice in the bottle...
Importance is in the eye of the consumer.
Does anyone other than the consumer - the end user and purchaser of the product - matter?
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Re: Does the label matter?

#28 Post by Bob Hunnicutt » May 13th, 2011, 8:32 am

A year ago when I was in Kona on the Big Island I stopped in a coffee shop that sold dozens of different local beans. I looked and looked around but really had no idea what to buy. So I picked the one that was in clear packaging (the rest weren't) and was organic. It was different. It stood out. Did I buy the best one for the money? I doubt it. LOL
(Not Hunnicutt Winery BTW)

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Re: Does the label matter?

#29 Post by Bob Wood » May 13th, 2011, 8:19 pm

Amazingly enough, Ken Wright dropped this . . .

Image

for this and its evil siblings.

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Re: Does the label matter?

#30 Post by Joe G a l e w s k i » May 14th, 2011, 6:15 am

Bob Wood wrote:Amazingly enough, Ken Wright dropped this . . .
I think they both suck in different ways, but the second one is worse.

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Re: Does the label matter?

#31 Post by Bob Wood » May 14th, 2011, 7:07 am

I think the original is beautiful and classy. I call the second one "The Potato Famine Comes To Dachau".

What's worse is that Ken and Karen apparently commissioned additional pieces by the same artist and they each "adorn" a separate single-vineyard bottling.
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Re: Does the label matter?

#32 Post by Rick Allen » May 16th, 2011, 8:56 pm

Dan Hammer wrote:
Like Adelsheim. They have nice labels, some that feature women.
FYI, The woman on the standard Pinot Noir label is Diana Lett, the late David Lett's wife, done by Ginny Adelsheim in the early 80's.

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