Spirit packaging from Karl Knauer KG
Spirits like gin, whisky and brandy have literally been on everybody’s lips recently: they have become a popular trend beverage. While the German market only offered a few major international gins and whiskies a few years ago, the selection of liquors is now larger than ever before. An increasing number of small, regional distilleries have breathed new life into the centuries-old craft of distillation and generated the enormous demand for high-quality spirits. From the formulation to the design of the bottle and the packaging, small distilleries have a chance to exhibit their quality, individuality and passion – and this is so popular with customers that they are prepared to pay a little more.
Taste is the crucial factor – even in design
In 2017, the average German spent roughly 50 euros on vodka, whisky, gin, rum and the like – and the industry is expecting sales to increase further in the coming years. Small distilleries need to be a little creative if they are to attract attention and thus secure a market share. While it is still true that the “proof of the pudding is in the eating”, things are not so straightforward in the supermarket, for example. When you are standing in front of the spirit selection, you do not normally have the chance to try out the different varieties. You either decide on a brand that you already know or you opt for a bottle or packaging that you like the look of.
Packaging as a valuable storyteller
“Packaging has outstanding potential for communicating the philosophy behind the product and conveying ideas that make people want to try the product. A bottle of gin or craft corn brandy packaged in a box that is naturally coloured, rough, decorated with fruits, herbs or ears of corn appeals to a different consumer group than products designed like Heerschild’s Bastard gin, for example: the presentation is extremely cool and minimalist, with the gin packaged in a rough, white box. Only the brand name is depicted – white on white – with hot foil embossing,” explains Thomas Schultheiß, Key Account Manager at Karl Knauer KG. It is especially important for small distilleries to think about the packaging they use, as this is what identifies the product and the people behind it.”
The Federal Association of the German Spirit Industry and Importers (BSI) confirmed in an interview that consumers are taking a greater interest in craft spirits and want to find out more about how they are made. In addition to taste, regionality and also rarity play an important role for enthusiasts. An unusually shaped bottle or packaging – such as the one used for the Brosamer distillery’s Schwarzwälder Whisky – can make the product appear more desirable and trigger the decision to make the purchase. There are some forms of whisky packaging that are traded at high prices among collectors – even when empty. This shows that the purpose of a box is no longer merely to protect the contents but also to appeal to the buyer on an emotional level. Even the feel of a box can determine whether or not a purchase is made.
“When we are designing packaging, it is important for us to find out precisely what our client wants to achieve and what the purpose of the packaging should be. We then select suitable material, decide on a shape for the packaging and discuss possible designs and the various options for finishing. Very often we hit the bull’s eye with our first blank mock-up and trigger the response in our client that the client wants to achieve at the POS,” says Thomas Schultheiß, delighted.