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Packaging, marketing, heritage and innovation

William Hutton, account and marketing executive at InnerWorkings luxury packaging division, gives his views about the importance of secondary packaging within the drinks market

William Hutton InnerWorkings

The role of marketing in the modern world is increasingly being recognised as the all-encompassing and expanding core function of a business. As a customer-centric discipline, marketing provides the tools that allow a business to perform an investigation into customer demand, then devise a system that acts upon these findings to create a key mutual benefit; firstly for the customers, and secondly for the company.

The drinks market is a unique industry with an abundance of history and heritage, which is portrayed not only through the products, but through their delivery to market often propelled by brand recognition. Drinks packaging as a speciality is therefore tasked to display this paradoxical combination of historic tradition, with chic design and innovation. This conjures up an opportunity to investigate how exactly the perfect equilibrium between marketing, heritage, and innovation can be achieved through the secondary packaging.

An analysis of some of the success stories reveals how the very essence of a customer centric focus is imperative to produce packaging that is not only unique, but has the characteristics of the product resonating through it.

A first example comes from the Dewar’s 30 Years Old Ne Plus Ultra Blended Scotch Whisky. This is a small batch offering and is presented as the oldest release from Dewar’s in its 170-year history. Full of heritage and exclusivity, the history and quality of such a product needed to be projected through its packaging, produced by InnerWorkings.

With a hand-crafted wooden box, the variation of the grain breathes uniqueness and portrays the historic value of the whisky. The challenging combination of heritage and chic design was achieved with a carefully selected use of metals for the plaques and handle. The contrast of textures, cold glossy metal, brushed effect paper, wood grain veneer and the multiple areas of laser engraving further deliver on its luxury promise, yet ensuring the brand tradition never leaves the user experience. A final point relating to this flipped innovation, whereby the customer thought process is instilled into the packaging, is with the individually numbered plaques. Not only does this portray the bespoke nature of the product, but acts as a marketing tool giving a sense of belonging to the brand.

The Dewar’s case really exhibits a marketing masterclass, its packaging realises the seamless equilibrium of old and new. An interesting concept, however a dual satisfying outcome means this is impressive to both designers and innovators, and discerning collectors.

Moving away from spirits and into the fine wine industry requires another unique and alternative approach to satisfy a different demographic of consumer. We have to look no further than the award-winning packaging of the Penfolds global travel retail gifting range. The stand out box of the Penfolds Grandfather provides us with a perfect example of this heritage and innovation equilibrium in question.

Again, produced by the InnerWorkings luxury packaging division, this packaging style is rather contrasting compared with the previously mentioned Dewar’s box, however this ‘customer-centric’ marketing technique is just as prevalent throughout this pack. A fine wine needs to be showcased and this box does exactly that. A chic design with the premium transparent window combined with a branded screen print logo is an excellent way to project the product within. The intricacies of the fine wine resonate through the box with the carefully designed silver metal clasp and delicate silver foil blocking. This box has a carefully considered user experience approach with a neatly designed drawer containing a cork stopper and certificate of authenticity. Less rustic than the Dewar’s box, however this is another great example whereby packaging can satisfy the trio of needs of effective branding, showcasing heritage, and pioneering packaging design and innovation.

The challenges in the packaging industry continue to evolve, but we have here identified how such paradoxical aims from major brands can be achieved through a customer-led thought process. Both cases also highlight the importance of packaging in the drinks industry and the significant value added.

Modern products can simply have modern concepts from the core, however the drinks industry is full of historical traditions, and the packaging industry has to ensure these traditions are projected at point of sale. This previously mentioned paradoxical combination of historic tradition, with chic design and innovation is an on-going challenge and is likely to continue to be. Despite this, marketers, construction engineers and designers can evidently continue to produce solutions with the end consumer at the forefront of the whole process. An intriguing concept at a glance, but investigated further it points towards a world of opportunities for the packaging industry.

14 July 2017