Whose gluten free and rapidly stealing the spotlight? Cider, that’s who. These brands are the up and coming players in spirits, and they’re no exception when it comes to craft cider packaging design. Mint, jalapeno, basil, elderberry, cherry; these are just some of the flavors incorporated in new craft ciders that provide plenty of space for play both in packaging design and on your taste buds.
Cider packaging design has historically focused on apples, orchards, trees, or some combination thereof, which is a huge contributor to the perception of all ciders being extremely sweet. Although some brands still pay homage to the drink’s main ingredient and its roots, the incorporation of new, eccentric ingredients and flavors have opened up a new world of creative packaging design. For example, Seattle Cider Company, New Belgium, and Shacksbury all have their own takes on dry, semi-dry, and semi-sweet ciders. This evolution has allowed cider to become a drink to be enjoyed all year round, not just in the summer months, which opens up even more possibilities for the composition of the drink as well as its design. Demographic trends are impacting this industry too. Hard. Although ciders have always been incredibly popular amongst younger women, the results are in, and guys like cider too. Who knew? This has led to a large gravitation towards an outdoorsy, craftsman-like, vintage, and more gender neutral design aesthetic in the cider realm to appeal to all consumers. Perhaps this is cider’s way of sneaking in on beer packaging design territory… Whatever it is, it’s working.
As more consumers opt for a healthier, gluten free, and in some cases, organic drink option on Friday night, craft ciders are only going to grow from here. Not only is cider a top choice for the health-conscious and/or calorie-counting population (is cider really that much better? haha), but the spirit is quickly becoming on par with beer and wine as a drink menu staple for all occasions. Craft cider will only become more synonymous with beer as small batches, unique bottles and cans, and targeted packaging design continue to become the norm. The majority of craft cider drinkers are coming from the craft beer world (Perhaps they are also trying to reel in some wine drinkers? Some of the really dry ones are almost champagne-like, have you had?). Bottom line, the same level of quality from the overall brand is expected. They want to know where the ingredients that are in that bottle or can came from, what makes these ingredients special, and they want to know the story behind who made it and why. These are important elements to include in the essence of each craft cider’s packaging design to continue to capture that market and eventually position cider as a premium drink. (People shop with their eyes first, after all.) With a larger emphasis on quality and taste, the relationship that a craft cider brand can create between its product and its consumers is going to make a difference and build strong brand loyalty that will keep them coming back, similar to what has worked for craft beer packaging design. Will, then, brand loyalty shift to the smaller, lesser known, craft cider with a story?
August 03, 2016 | BY Aleksa Narbutaitis
In 2013 something outstanding happened to me: I discovered that I love whiskey. Having lived out on the West Coast for over 8 years, I was barely drinking anything other than cold-pressed green juice. After an evening of oysters and drinks on a snowy Chicago night, everything changed. I found my drink: The Manhattan cocktail. The crispness of a great small-batch whiskey mixed with the sweetness of vermouth, all tied together with some craft aromatic bitters and that boozy cherry had me on the first sip. On the rocks, please.
This is all to say: women like whiskey too.
Working in the food and beverage packaging and design space, I am always observing what products I purchase and what products I pass by. While whiskey packaging design is indeed starting to expand in aesthetic with a lot of modern, clean, and novel approaches, overall the designs are overtly masculine or “Old World” feeling. I want what's inside the bottle, of course, but there's very little on what's outside the bottle to sway my purchasing decision.
New craft distilleries are popping up across the country, definitely an exciting proposition, and with that some updated approaches to whiskey branding. While this is exciting, I think there are a lot of unexplored possibilities that speak to both genders that can successfully market to this new wave of younger whiskey consumers.
As it stands now, the whiskey packaging design market may be predominantly a man’s world. But as a whiskey startup distillery, I know I would want to capitalize on the new generation of whiskey drinkers and appreciators. That translates to whiskey packaging design that doesn’t put off female buyers and packaging that explores modern ways to speak to both genders. Obviously the history and lore of the drink lends to the traditional designs in whiskey packaging, but does whiskey have to feel so old and serious all the time? I'm not talking about wrapping the bottle in pink lace -- just give me something more contemporary and appealing.
Like craft coffee, I think these new small batch whiskey brands are slowly starting to explore some different and modern designs and veer away from heavy masculinity, but there is a lot of opportunity in pushing whiskey packaging design further. An amazing and quality product needs unique and quality design to accompany it. If you want to stand out on the shelves and persuade consumers that your brand is better than your competitor's, focusing on creating a novel and distinctive design aesthetic is paramount.
In the end, do you really want your brand to look like everything else on the shelf that your products will live on?
July 22, 2015 | BY Nicole LaFave