Wine packaging can take many forms – from bottles, to casks, to the more dubious ‘wine in a can’ form. However it’s still the traditional bottle and label format which is by far the most popular amongst consumers. Although it is much smaller than a cask, the visual area of a wine label needs to provide a large amount of information to the consumer, whilst also appearing attractive in-store.
Wine can be described as a ‘high-involvement purchase’, as it is associated with a perception of risk. Potential risks could include purchasing a wine that tastes bad, financial risk or social embarrassment. So in order to reduce risk, customers engage in information searching. For the majority of people – people who aren’t overly interested in wine – the information searching is undertaken in-store and is purely visual. Aspects such as brand name, packaging, grape variety, and price are analysed, and a customer is more likely to purchase a wine if they recognise the brand name or have had it before.
This is where packaging and semiotics is important. The style and colour of imagery used on wine labels can vary greatly between price points and can greatly influence an overwhelmed customer in-store. For example, lower-priced ($6-10) wines tend to use illustrative and organic imagery whilst higher-end wines ($40+) rely on purely typographic and ornamental labels. Similarly with colour, black and navy is popular with high-end wines, to reinforce the idea of a premium brand. Gold is prevalent through all price points, although more so with premium brands, whereas red and pink occur quite frequently amongst cheaper white wines – possibly to appeal to young women. The treatment and placement of type can also have an effect on how the consumer perceives the wine.
Last year a friend of mine was in Poland. He is interested in wine, works in the industry, and purchased what he thought was a Moldovan wine from 1997. The text reading ‘1997’ was emphasised and in the space where the vintage year usually is placed on a wine label. We drank it under the impression it was from 1997. Upon drinking the wine, we discovered it wasn’t as enjoyable as first thought, so we took the time to properly read the label (it was in Polish so it was nearly impossible). It soon became clear that the winery was founded in 1997 and the wine was produced in 2012. This is an example of how presentation of information on a label can easily influence – and in this case – fool consumers.
On the other hand, wine labels can be a space for unrestrained creativity (if the client is willing), which can result in some really interesting outcomes. Trends in wine labelling as of late often refer to the act of drinking, and use a plainer speak to appeal to people who might not otherwise drink wine. A few of my favourite wine labels combine humour, good, clean design and an apparent disregard for traditional conventions of labelling.
*UNO Australia is a Melbourne based creative design agency located on the outer skirts of Richmond, specialising in graphic, product and exhibition / retail interior design solutions. If you are looking to develop your brand or product, feel free to contact us for further information. We look forward to hearing from you.