What's new in wine and spirits packaging?

Wooden retail shelves displaying various wine bottles

Take a trip to your neighborhood liquor store or warehouse club, and you’ll be greeted with a dazzling variety of wine and spirits on the shelves. Look closer and you’ll see packaging designs and styles you might not have noticed before.

The wine and spirits industry is shaped by consumers’ preferences. But one area these consumers may not think much about helps manufacturers and distributors stand out in a competitive market: packaging.

Today, there are almost endless packaging solutions to choose from—new materials, printing technologies and more sustainable options. This innovation is fueled by packaging companies, wine and spirit producers, and distributors and retailers.

Innovation to grow brands and sales

The packaging evolution often begins with designers and manufacturers working together to find new ways to attract customers, reinvigorate brands or bring a more premium feel to a product, by changing the packaging’s look and feel or the size, style or material. Typically, their focus is to elevate the brand, grow consumer loyalty and generate more sales.

Franco DiTerlizzi, Veritiv’s National Creative Manager – Rigid Packaging, says he’s seeing innovation in the material used for rigid packaging. “There’s an exciting disruption in our industry, with new types of packaging being prototyped and rolled out to the wine and spirits market, including vacuum forms, cans, cartons and new interpretations of existing materials, such as bottles and boxes,” he says. “As long as the packaging is functional and meets the conditions it faces during transit and shipment, almost anything is possible.”

DiTerlizzi also shares that printing capabilities are expanding, too, with 3D scanning and printing and plateless production, which offer personalization and smaller print runs. “The type of printing, the package’s surface material and the interpretation of design is diverse. Packaging can take on the appearance of wood-grain or a texture, a label can be a fold-out style, or heat-shrunk film can display an eye-catching package wrapper.”

Sustainable packaging

Sustainability has the attention of wine and spirits manufacturers and consumers. But ensuring material is recyclable or can be lightweighted, when packaging is minimized or the container itself is lighter, can be complex. This is because many factors come into play, including material cost, performance and recyclability—and also consumer knowledge about sustainable packaging.

“People want to easily dispose of packaging and beverage containers in the trash or recycle bin,” DiTerlizzi says. “And they don’t want to think twice about it. There’s some education involved throughout the supply chain that helps consumers understand options for recycling.”

Formatted text representing a point made in the contentReimagining rigid packaging

Wine and spirits producers interested in exploring new or refreshed packaging and printing options can work with their packaging partner to find the best solution for their products. Initially, this work is often focused on design sketches and prototypes.

Next comes development and design, and there are many options. At one end of the spectrum, beverage producers may want highly customized and proprietary packaging, which can be expensive. At the other end are more budget-conscious solutions where just one or two aspects of the rigid packaging and printing is modified in lieu of a complete revamp. Another scenario is when packaging needs to work for a specific channel, like e-commerce, where the material and design requirements may look different than on the shelf in retail.

Ultimately, functionality and design should go hand in hand. “Consumers often don’t think about the work that goes into a packaging product— nor should they,” says DiTerlizzi. “The best design often goes unseen, because it functions properly. The experience with the product is positive and memorable, and the consumer is motivated to keep choosing it.”