If you had a favorite brand of cereal as a kid (who didn’t, right?), then you must remember the visceral disappointment you felt when your parents bought a generic off-brand product instead of your favorite. You didn’t even need to taste them, did you? The mere fact they did not have the familiar mascot on the box made you hate them.
The fact that most of us can relate speaks volumes about the power of labels and branding. Before a customer has had a chance to try your product, they judge it by its appearance. When it comes to premium products like wine, spirits, craft beer, or cannabis products, the appearance is pretty much everything a brand has to bet on for attracting new retail consumers.
The Power of Labels for Premium Products
Branding has always been important for any product claiming to be premium. But the importance of labels has grown in recent years as new technologies have allowed us to create brand experiences even for people who have never bought the product, just looked at it.
Up until the 80s, consumers didn’t care much for wine labels, for instance. If they knew they wanted to drink a French Chablis, they would search for that in the aisle and that was it. Labeling was rarely used to tell stories or to help with brand positioning.
Today, we know exactly what to expect from a certain premium product in terms of labels. Consumers associate simple and uncluttered labels with high-end vintages. In Europe, label legislation is quite comprehensive and restrictive. Experienced consumers have come to understand that a wine from the Languedoc region, for example, will offer no discernible information about its contents on the front label. They will, however, recognize it easily because it has that retro and quirky feel to it—and it’s all in the label.
U.S. winemakers (as well as distilleries, craft breweries, and cannabis products) can leverage the power of the labels more than their European counterparts (whom they often compete with on the shelves). A premium product that doesn’t come from an established brand with dozens of years of experience on the market, needs to stand out more on the shelf. It needs to catch the eye.
In premium products, no label space is wasted. The colors tell you about the taste you should expect: vivid, eye-popping colors tell consumers to expect an exotic experience, while earth-tone labels are ideal for products with a more sophisticated taste.
But did you know that the label can influence the actual taste of a product by acting on the pleasure centers in the brain? A few years ago, a study revealed that a consumer’s pleasure centers are more active when they think they’re sipping on a $90 bottle of wine than on a $5 one—even if both contain the exact same wine.
In other words: if you want to offer your customers a premium experience, start with the label. A well-designed and well-printed label won’t just make them grab your product off the shelves. It will also make them enjoy it more.
How to Use Labels to Tell a Premium Story
When you grab a sandwich on the go, you eat because you need to. But when it comes to premium experiences, eating and drinking aren’t just about smell and taste. They involve all the senses.
Just like Michelin-starred chefs spend a lot of time on plating the food they create, premium wine, beer, cannabis, and spirits require special attention on the product’s label. You can’t charge premium prices for something that looks like an off-brand, generic supermarket product.
Alcoholic drinks, for example, need to shine on supermarket shelves, but also in bars and restaurants. You want your target audience to be able to easily pick them from a crowd—to point at them and know that they are the wine, the beer, or the rum they want to taste this evening.
Typography plays an important part in premium labels. But the way your fonts are printed matters too. Emboss the label or add a third dimension and you’ve got a rich texture that appeals to the tactile feel, not just to the eyes.
Want to make a bottle or a can look more expensive than it is? Hot stamping, gold foil, or gold stamping can achieve that for you instantly. For an extra premium feel that appeals to tech-minded millennials, you can even add QR codes for a digital experience or NFC ID tags for authentication. Very few things can say “premium product” louder than implying your product is so good it’s constantly copied.
Want to make your premium product stand out in a crowded industry? Talk to our labeling experts! We specialize in custom labels for premium wines, craft beers, spirits, cannabis-infused products, and more. We’re always at the ready to advise you on how to craft a premium label that stands up to your brand.