It used to be that you could walk into any liquor store and, based on price and appearance, be able to quickly discern the premium players from the standard players. The codes of premium were well-established in packaging design — embellished glass, tall bottles, elaborate closures and applied-color instead of paper labels. These visual cues established an aspirational image for many brands that warranted a higher price point — and consumers bought it. Premium, in this sense, was differentiating.
Today, things have changed. We are witnessing a dramatic evolution of premium, making it more challenging than ever to justify the coveted premium price point. On one end, we have the rise of “masstige,” mainstream brands adopting the appearance of premium brands but at a lower price point. On the other end, we have luxury brands developing starter lines that are offering consumers a luxury-brand experience at an accessible price point. The result is a muddy middle, where premium brands are struggling to define a differentiated, yet elevated experience that is accessible but also worthy of a slightly higher price. It can be confusing.