October 2013 Issue of Wines & Vines

Message on a Bottle

How to optimize your label to build relationships with consumers

by Toni Hamilton-Edwards

With a growing number of wine brands crowding the shelves, small wineries can find it challenging to make their products stand out.

As the age profile of wine consumers changes, and their shopping methodology evolves to be more information-based, how can your small winery engage with consumers and begin to build lasting brand relationships with minimal expenditure? The No. 1 tool is right in front you: your wine label.

As the director of marketing at ASL PrintFX, I try to collaborate with clients early in the concept stage. One of the main reasons is to ensure our clients are optimizing their labels: Do our clients’ labels differentiate them from the competitive set? Do they speak to their brand identity? Do they engage with their consumers? Are they going to increase sales and build a solid consumer base?

Your label is the reason that you will sell your first bottle to a consumer; your wine is the reason they will buy a second. Your label should be treated as your billboard. You have about five seconds to grab a consumer’s attention and convince them to pick up your bottle. There are several innovative ways to leverage the space on your wine label, so you can start to increase your brand recall and build that relationship.

One option to investigate is a peel-away or label-on-label feature. It is a great way to increase brand retention and initiate engagement. This hidden feature can be used to drive consumers to a mobile website; it can show food-pairing ideas, promote other varietals or even include a special promo code with access to pre-buying for new releases. The peel-away label can be treated like a business card: a smaller, more efficient way for a consumer to recall that special bottle of wine enjoyed at a restaurant. Customers can easily place the peel-away portion into their pocket instead of having to write down the brand, vintage and varietal. Ensure continuity with all your varietals and update the information on the peel-away label regularly. It may become a mini flyer that your consumers look for. Also, if you include a peel-away label, make sure you include a call to action or reason for someone to peel it back, such as “Look behind the label for information about…” or “Peel back for an exclusive chance to…”

A great example of a peel-away label is one used by Cline Cellars in Sonoma, Calif. They have an extra panel that provides recipes from restaurants that serve their wines by the glass.

Cline also includes information about their farming practices—solar power, soil enrichment with crushed volcanic rock and oyster shells, and the employment of sheep and goats to graze weeds in the vineyards.

Some wineries will use the tear-away label to increase brand recall with consumers who have enjoyed the wine outside their home (such as the Durbanville Hills label shown below). They have a small peel-back label that consumers can keep, and which acts as a business card displaying their website and phone number.

Work with your designer and label printer early in the concept stage to achieve the most efficient way of incorporating this feature with your current design.

Another option to initiate consumer engagement is to make your wine label interactive. Include a quick response (QR) code; 49% of millenials (the emerging wine customer born in the early 1980s to 1990s) who see QR codes will scan them. If you choose to include a QR code, make sure you have the resources (both staff and technology) to properly support this two-way communication. There are some key tips to ensure success:

1. Ensure it has a purpose. Build a strategy and content plan when implementing the QR code. How often will the content be updated? What reason does a consumer have for scanning the code? The QR code needs to be a quick connection to exclusive information that has an immediate payoff.

2. Don’t send consumers to a desktop site. Ensure your site is up to date and mobilize your landing page.

3. Make sure your code is large enough and in a convenient location on your wine label to scan. Placing the code on the inside of the bottle won’t help. The minimum size of a QR code should be one square inch.

Things to do
Keep your URL short. The more information your code is trying to relay and the more dots on the code, the harder it is for smartphones to read.

Give your consumer a reason to scan. As with the peel-away label, ensure your QR code has a call to action, or reason, beside the code. For example, “for information about the best food pairings…” or, “for exclusive discounts on your next purchase…”

When your QR code is done, test, test, test. You would assume once completed your QR code should be up and running. Wrong. Test your code with different phones, using different applications, different providers, different angles and different distances. Ensure that the code works consistently. It’s important the code is easily accessible always.

QR codes can be built into your initial design or can be applied later by making a smaller sticker. Your label printer can help you create this code and work with you to ensure success. Your QR code can take on interesting shapes such as the Jacob’s Creek label (above right).

One winery has fully embraced QR codes in a majority of their activity. Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards in Peconic, N.Y., worked with Pitney Bowes and their Smart Codes. Peter Carey from Osprey’s Dominion implemented QR codes to “be ahead of the curve.” They have included QR codes on their wine labels and within their advertising. When a customer scans the codes either from their ad or the wine bottle, they are provided with more information about that particular advertisement or varietal—whether it is the latest award received or upcoming events at the winery.

QR codes can also be placed on event flyers or ads to help direct consumers to register to attend. Remember: A QR code alone isn’t going to get people to want to register. Make sure to provide enough content about the event (text and visual) on your flyers and give people an incentive to sign up. You can also use QR codes to direct people to easily sign up to receive your newsletters. The code can be set up to scan and take them directly to be added to your mailing list.

Now that you’ve incorporated your label on label and/or your QR code, the last important piece is to track your results. It’s important to track the results of all your marketing activity so you can ensure your budget is spent effectively in growing your brand. Each of your activities can have a unique URL code, thus tracking back to how your consumer started their engagement with your brand. Success can be measured in two ways—the number of people who are responding to your activity (response rate) and the amount of time they are spending engaged with your brand. Make a list of what to track: who scans, how often, when, where, what happens after the scan and so forth. Be sure to work with your website provider when developing the QR codes, as they will be able to provide the results of activity.

So leverage your wine label and engage with your consumers. Romance copy and descriptions of your production are still essential, but these options give you more opportunities to have two-way conversations and provide insights into how your consumers think.

Toni Hamilton-Edwards has 10 years of marketing experience with some of the world’s leading alcoholic beverage companies such as Diageo and Constellation. She is the director of marketing at ASL Print FX, where she collaborates with clients to provide the best marketing solutions for their brands.


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