Putting craftmanship on display

Opening doors help to ‘frame’ a bottle on shelf

Making sure spirits are properly presented on-shelf is a critical factor in sales success, says Peter Conner of Pollard Group

THE world likes more than the odd tipple. The Scotch Whisky Association has reported a record-breaking year for exports in 2017, growing in both volume and value to a total of £4.36 billion, equivalent to 1.23 billion bottles exported globally.

The skills and craftsmanship of the master blenders are a vital part of this success, with each whisky having its own distinctive taste and aromas – and a detailed description of the drink is usually a key element of its selling proposition.

While tasting notes are therefore often included as part of the packaging, the challenge remains to attract the consumer to the pack in the first place and to create the appropriate image and on-shelf appeal in crowded and competitive markets.

There is no compromise in the creation of each whisky and this has to be reflected in the pack – but at the same time commercial realties mean distilleries are still seeking cost-effectiveness in their pack solutions and maximum efficiencies during the bottling process.

For the presentation box manufacturer, selection of the appropriate materials is essential in establishing the required premium image.

Advanced decoration can highlight logos and other details on the box

Well specified papers and boards are far more important than gimmicky design features. A square box and lid made with quality materials and incorporating appropriate print finishes will always create a far more premium appearance than a shaped box made from low grade materials.

The robustness of the box construction is equally vital to provide the right level of protection for these high-value drinks.

Features such as vacuum formed inserts and block shoulders also help to keep bottles secure as well as ensuring that they are correctly orientated and front-facing when the consumer opens the pack.

The quality appearance of the pack encourages consumers to pick it up and explore further, so the initial handling must also reinforce this premium image.

The use of tactile materials with multi-sensory technologies that combine different textures for contrasting touch and feel; well-designed artwork that maximises the impact of print finishes; and special effects such as spot UV varnish, hot foil stamping, embossing, and lamination – ways in which brand logos can be highlighted for example – are equally vital factors in the pack design.

All contribute to creating a sense of excitement around the product and delivering the best ‘opening experience’.

Another important on-shelf requirement for many whiskies is to enable the bottle to be viewed on-shelf.

Detailed tasting notes can be part of the opening experience

Opening up the pack in this way also allows tasting notes on the inside of the box to be viewed as part of the buying process, while the incorporation of opening doors on both the front and back of the box creates a see-through view that has the effect of ‘framing’ the bottle on shelf.

More mainstream brands may opt for a box with an opening at the top, as this provides a faster and more efficient means of filling the boxes during production.

Box manufacturers are now addressing the challenge of creating a new generation of presentation boxes that still incorporate the front and rear opening features while being able to be filled from the top.

This last point underlines the skills and expertise of UK and European box manufacturers and is one of the main reasons why the past few years has seen many drinks producers return to sourcing their presentation packaging requirements much closer to home.

Box manufacturers here can match the same high levels of expertise and craftsmanship as the leading distilleries, with both hand assembly and high levels of state-of-the-art automation, supported by constructional design experts who provide essential advice to the creative process to ensure final box designs can be cost-effectively manufactured.

Equally important, such benefits are backed by much shorted lead times, enabling launch deadlines to be met.

The right presentation box is integral to the purchasing experience of the best spirits.

For brand owners, key to success is well thought out packaging that can combine innovation and shelf stand out to reflect and enhance overall brand image, while still being cost-effectively produced to meet the specified price point.