The Whole Package

I received more e-mail about last issue’s column on the taste of beverages (It’s the Taste, Stupid!) than just about anything I’ve written over the years. It seems I touched a raw nerve with retailers, distributors, wholesalers and especially beverage marketers. Most were in agreement that, when it comes to many new brands, taste has not yet caught up with intent and functionality.

Some marketers, however, got pretty defensive.

Even though no new brands were named, many of the folks who usually send products to my offi ce assumed I meant them. I actually had a decrease in new brands or prototypes sent in – and that makes me think I might have struck a vein of insecurity with some folks.

But you know me, I’m a lover, not a fighter. So in an effort to win back your faith that I can cheerlead as well as I goad, I will now give equal time to one of the best aspects of the industry right now: Packaging.

Packaging has been a shining star in my “golden age of beverages.” A walk through any retail operation gives a plethora of shapes, sizes, types and stunning graphics. The primary and secondary packages are a sight to behold.

My old friends at Perception Research deem that the consumer spends less than two seconds looking at any given product (those sly devils, they mount cameras on hats to catch the shoppers’ habits!). So you need to grab them fast; current arrays do just that.

I implore you: Peruse the New Products section of Beverage Spectrum to see that depth and breath of the unique packages out there. Every issue brings exciting and original packages that might grace the shelves of our retailers. As I read, I feel like a kid in a candy store.

Graphics have evolved into a signature element for so many products – look at what PepsiCo did last year with its rotating cans! The growth of our ability to capture the essence of a brand and its message is astounding. Additionally, the clarity of multi-pack secondary packaging, especially in the beer arena, is a sight to behold. The labels on the primary packaging across all categories are stunning. I give special kudos to marketers of spirits and bottled water. The amount of proprietary bottles out there is vast, with each delivering a unique positioning message. Caps and closures have made strides to help defi ne products, not just enclose their contents.

So the packaging realm that is running on all cylinders today. It makes the shopping fun and gives it clarity. Keep up the great work. And please, guys, start sending me drinks again?