>Does Bottle Design Complement or Compete with Spirit Quality?
By Kathleen Reynolds, KReyRecommends.com
Reality television fans will recall how Bethenny Frankel slaved over designing just the right label for her now-famous (or infamous, depending whom you ask) “Skinny Girl Margarita.” The end product displays a slim yet busty silhouette, clad in a bright and tight red top. It claims to be the “margarita you can trust,” and boasts only 100 calories per serving.
Since its launch, the SkinnyGirl Margarita (www.skinnygirlcocktails.com) has warranted disdain from countless spirits professionals – and raked in thousands for its creator. Beyond the media-saturated spokesperson and mass-friendly pricing, there is no denying the level of awareness behind the SkinnyGirl brand, which is clearly represented on every bottle. And it begs the question: when it comes to wine and spirits – do looks really matter?
The short answer? Yes. Of course. A number of bartenders and spirits professionals interviewed insisted looks have little to no bearing on their preferences. Most would opt for austere design if it came with a superior spirit. But they recognize that consumers buy with their eyes. And if it really didn’t matter, companies would not invest in a bottle’s looks or labels. The truth is, a modern meal isn’t complete without creative plating and most imbibers are eyeing bottles like they would book covers or eHarmony photos. They want the spirit to speak to them before the first sip. But there’s a fine line between whetting the palette over-promising on looks while disappointing on taste.
Marketers can go through elaborate measures to ensure their end product is consistent with their brand’s core. For Leblon USA (www.lebloncachaca.com), a premium, small batch cachaça that’s been on the market since 2005, the bottle was designed with an internal mantra in mind, according to Steve Luttman, President and Founder. “We’re always thinking about S.N.T. – sensual, natural, together.” Luttman wants anyone who sees his product to feel they could “travel to Rio in a bottle.” According to him, “When you’re selling spirits, you’re selling a cheap plane ticket.” Everything from the exotic font used, to the mountain landscape in the background, to the carefully-selected lime green colors, is intended to transport a person to Brazil’s famous beaches. The creative process began in Luttman’s mind, and its remnants remain on his office wall five years later to keep him focused. After writing the central concept, Luttman created an idea board and mocked up a basic logo. From there, he consulted with Paul McDowell Design to turn his vision into reality. They tested prototypes with consumers and industry professionals along the way, and have not veered from the initial design since launching five years ago.
How does Luttman know it’s effective? He describes honing his sales pitch and to avoid launching into a hard sell right away. “I just put the bottle on the bar, and it immediately generates a response and starts the conversation. He recognizes that bottle design only goes so far. “Looks just get us in the door. The juice has to speak for itself. If it doesn’t, we’re screwed.”
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