Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Plastic could be fantastic

Published:  18 January, 2007

A few years ago I attended a Wine Intelligence seminar which contrasted a survey showing that consumers took very little account of packaging when choosing wine, with video evidence of consumers at the point of purchase.

The clips showed that, in practice, presentation was a key determinant of choice. But why the discrepancy?

Well, experience suggests that wine consumers, when questioned, play down the importance of those purchase cues which make them appear less wine-knowledgeable.

Within the decision-making hierarchy, presentation may be behind occasion, colour and price. But after that things get more than a little fuzzy - and strong, relevant branding just has to be an advantage, particularly when consumers are staring uncertainly at a wall of wine.

This all came to mind as I considered the results of the latest WSTA Consumer Intelligence Survey on the importance of bottle colour and weight, and on the potential of alternative forms of packaging.

Quantitative surveys like this, which fall into the "Usage and Attitude" category, are invaluable in demonstrating how consumers views change over time. But producers, suppliers and retailers need to handle the results with caution.

Research which asks consumers their view of something which is outside their current experience, such as new forms of packaging, should be taken as a steer, not a statement of intent.

Those suppliers considering a move away from glass should not be unduly discouraged, just as the screwcap movement was undeterred by vehemently pro-cork research findings.

The survey simply implies, not surprisingly, that there is a significant hurdle to be jumped.

Individual brand owners, too, should be wary. Strong brands are greater than the sum of their parts.

Therefore no single element -whether the name, the label, the wine itself or, in this case, the bottle - can be researched in isolation.

It is risky to amend one element of the mix on the basis of generic feedback, just as it would be risky to do so with an inadequate knowledge of how consumers relate to the brand in question.

Michael Paul is managing director of Orbital Wines