Packaging Matters
Choosing the right package can catapult a beverage to the front of the pack
Carefully crafted flavors and clever marketing can drive a beverage’s success, but when a beverage goes one on one with a consumer on the shelf at retail, without the aid of a taste test or slick advertisement, a well-executed package can make or break the beverage.
The use of unique structures is one of three packaging trends in beverages, according to Dave Fiedler, creative director at The Bailey Group, Plymouth Meeting, Pa. “It’s a significant capital investment, but companies are starting to see the payoff in that investment because it’s giving them a unique look that captures the consumer’s eye,” he says. “It also lends itself well to product positioning.”
Private label beverages also have explored unique packaging. Wawa, an East Coast convenience store chain, employs its own unique single-serve bottle that separates its private label dairy from more traditional paperboard containers used by its competitors.
A second beverage packaging trend has been the continuing move to single-serve. Sodas and teas have long been available in single-serve containers, however beverages traditionally sold in bulk or in gallons have increasingly moved to single-serve to address the desire for portability, says Ken Cahill, group design director at The Bailey Group.
The third and most influential packaging trend, Cahill says, has been the use of full-body shrinkwrap labeling, used most notably by 8th Continent and Fuze. “From a design and production standpoint it’s the single most noticeable trend not only with existing beverages but with new beverages too,” he comments. “Full-body shrinkwrap has been embraced because it creates a greater shelf presence, better brand blocking opportunities and offers the manufacturer more area to communicate their brand message on the package.”
Practical solutions
For the commercial launch of its glucosamine dietary supplement beverage, Joint Juice partnered with MeadWestvaco Packaging Systems, Atlanta, to create a dynamic secondary package for its 8-ounce short cans. Using a six-color hexachrome process in combination with a high-gloss UV coating on Coated Natural Kraft (CNK) paperboard, MeadWestvaco developed an easy-to-carry 24-pack Duodozen carton with eye-catching graphics.
The hexachrome process features standard CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) printing as well as two additional colors, orange and green. This precise six-color process creates a sophisticated package with brilliant graphics, differentiating Joint Juice from other functional beverages.  
“The bold colors and high-gloss coating on the Joint Juice package help it to stand out on store shelves,” says Bill Wagner, national account manager at MeadWestvaco Packaging Systems.
Jones Soda, Seattle, is known for its quirky approach to premium sodas, but in July the company national rolled out Jones Organics, a range of organic tea and fruit juice blends packaged in proprietary bottles from Owens-Illinois.
Mike Spear, brand manager for Jones Organics, says the line’s stark white labels were designed by Jason Gomez of Fitch, a Seattle graphic design and branding studio, to be sophisticated. “The design mirrors what we wanted in the product,” he says. “Jones Organics is a clean and simple product [with] a clean and simple taste ... The label accents the most telling and important parts of the product: tea and fruit.”
The packaging also reflects the very different demographic Jones is trying to attract. The soda line is targeted to consumers ages 12 to 24, while the Organics line is geared toward those 25 to 45. “A more subdued and elegant label lends itself to this demographic; mature, health conscious and leading a healthy lifestyle,” Spear says. “We wanted to keep the labels fun though, thus the fruit logo that will change on a quarterly basis and feature art and designs from our consumers.”
As for the bottle, Jones Chief Executive Officer Peter van Stolk wanted to keep the familiar look of other Jones’ product lines, while creating a novel design for the new product, so he collaborated with the O-I design team. While the design and bottle mold were created in just one day, Christopher Liddy, eastern regional manager of new business development and global sourcing at I-O, says the major hurdle turned out to be achieving the correct capacity while maintaining the design of the container.
“Through his market research, Peter van Stolk determined that 20 ounces was too large a capacity for the container,” he recalls. “...The result was a 14.9-ounce container that appeals to everyone. It is more or less a vessel that men and women can drink from and not have it feel too cumbersome in their hands. Jones didn’t want a big bulky container in a woman’s hands and conversely did not want something too feminine in a man’s hand. This container is the best of both worlds.” BI
Convenient carafes
This fall, 7-Eleven convenience stores nationwide and Chicago-area White Hen stores began carrying refillable, disposable Beverage Carafe package from International Dispensing Corp. (IDC), Hanover, Md. The patented package allows on-the-go bulk coffee consumers to safely carry 1 gallon of hot coffee, and keep it hot for as long as three hours.
The package incorporates a sterile, flexible, biax nylon pouch attached to a rigid plastic frame, with corrugated side panels that attach to the outside of the frame. The construction helps withstand the trauma of being dropped, while the stand-up pouch prevents splash-back during filling. A reinforced plastic carrying handle and a 3-inch spout makes pouring trouble-free.
Gibson’s label makeover
Gibson’s 12-year Canadian Whisky and Sterling Canadian Whisky packages recently were retrofitted with premium labels that leverage the premium nature of the products, while portraying a consistent “family” branding. The labels were designed by The Bailey Group.
Gibson’s Finest 12-year Canadian Whisky features a gold on gold background label, shoulder label and necker. The Gibson’s brand name in white is punched out of a black eyebrow ribbon on the label, which is extended with an ornate printed pattern on both sides of the label. Gibson’s Finest Sterling Canadian Whisky adopts the same architecture, but uses a sterling silver tone-on-tone background color on the label, a dark blue eyebrow and supporting color scheme.