Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Power Of The Label

Why do you drink the wine you drink? Is it because you met the winemaker at some point and because of your relationship to them you are a devoted fan? Is it because you are a wine snob who knows a good wine regardless of anything else? Or, is it because you saw this cool label on the shelf and thought you’d give it a try? Chances are it is this last reason that you purchased the wine you’re drinking.
I was thinking about this the other day as I walked through the wine isle of my neighborhood grocery. Initially as I looked up and down the shelves I was searching for wines I knew. Wines that were made by friends, or ones that I recognized. However, with a few glances around I have to admit that I was soon looking for a “cool” bottle.

The likelihood that you will purchase a particular wine is greatly influenced by the look of the label. That even goes for seasoned professional winos like me. That likelihood goes up exponentially as the cost of the bottle goes down.

Frankly, I’m often amazed at the really crappy label designs found on relatively expensive bottles of wine. The deal is that you just know that the wine is good by the name on the bottle. This is extremely true in high end boutique wines that are under 100 cases in volume. After all, why waste good wine on a stupid label?

On the other hand, wines in the $5 and under range have to have a cute label. Otherwise nobody would drink that rot-gut.

Where the label war really exists is in bottles that are in the $10 to $20 range. You will find the most amazing and unique labels at this price point. Truly, the ones you’ll want to collect the bottles and make candle holders just because the label is so darned cute.

One example of wines that are just ok, but sell like crazy are the Mad Housewife wines. If that label weren’t so attractive nobody would buy it. Once they try it and realize that it isn’t that bad, they’ll keep buying it to amuse their friends.

One point where the label becomes a competitive sport is in the wines that sit in the $30 to $50 range. This is a very difficult price point to sell. I’m asked frequently if I can taste the difference between a $10 bottle and a $50 bottle. Of course I can. But, many uneducated wine drinkers can’t distinguish the flavors and differences.

This is where the label, the bottle, and even the seal on the top become super critical to the success of the wine in the market. This is where a skilled label designer becomes important. This is where foiling on the label, custom artwork, and even hand dipped wax seals become important in setting the wine apart and making you want to drink THAT bottle.

Next time you’re searching for a wine just stop and take a look at the artwork on the shelves. When you do, I’ll bet you’ll find yourself grabbing the wine with the cute label too.


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