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Rowena Curlewis, CEO of specialist drinks design agency Denomination, reflects on their success at this year’s Harpers Design Awards 2017. With more trophies than they can count and the honour of being named 2017’s Design Agency of the Year, Denomination are playing at the top of their game 

“One of the pleasing developments in the wine industry of late is the growth of brands and products that are focusing on addressing consumer needs. Brands that accurately define and understand how to address and meet a consumer need, can fast-track their potential for success.

For example, one of the major drawbacks for consumers opening a bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne, is how to keep the liquid bubbly if the entire contents are not consumed in one sitting. Clearly, the old trick of a teaspoon in the bottle has never, and will never, work. Most consumers don’t have a stopper to hand, especially at outdoor occasions. This was a key part of Treasury Wine Estates’ brief: to develop a consumer-led proposition in the sparkling category that would change the paradigm of sparkling. Introducing Georg Jensen Hallmark Cuvée: a designer sparkling with a sleek, contemporary stopper as an intrinsic part of the brand. An innovation that was, in hindsight, blindingly obvious.

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Wine in 75cl glass bottles is the rarely questioned, standard format, but is it the most appropriate vessel to take wine to a picnic or a BBQ? Or camping or to a festival? Or what happens if you only want one glass? Rachel Archer, NPD Manager for Off-Piste, recognised the huge growth of wine in cans in the US (a seven-fold increase since 2012, Nielsen) and so decided to launch PinotPinot Sparkling Pinot Grigio in a 200ml can this year. Our design for the can was to keep the graphics minimal and stylish, and appropriate to a millennial consumer who is not tied to tradition. The development of the concept of a sparkling Pinot Grigio as an alternative to Prosecco was vindicated through bespoke consumer research via Wine Intelligence’s Vinitrac® survey, and the recent winning of a Trophy at Harpers Design Awards 2017. The judges loved the way that the design had “hit the right note for bringing this alternative format closer to the mainstream, with a smart design which seemed to borrow cues from the world of fashion.” Similarly, Off-Piste’s Most Wanted single-serve 187cl pouches were developed in response to the changes in consumer lifestyles and growth of small format wines in the UK. With clean graphics, and a smooth matt finish, the pouches are not only practical but also, according to the judges at Harpers Design Awards, represent “genuine innovation”. They said that Most Wanted has seemingly done the impossible by making a single-serve pouch not only simple and versatile, but stylish too.

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And for the luxury consumer or gift giver, the key consumer need is to ensure that the high purchase price is very clear from the way that the brand is designed and presented, with no explanation required. For Yalumba’s new flagship wine The Caley, with a price point that was almost triple its next most expensive wine, the needs of the luxury consumer or gift giver were top of mind. From the heavily detailed gift box, to the bespoke tissue paper that featured the map of Fred Caley Smith’s journeys, to the hard-cover photobook neatly inset into the gift box, to the angled white waxed and hand stamped closure, to the impressive label, every feature speaks to quality and prestige.

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Just as with all consumer goods, these days a wine brand that can accurately pinpoint and meet a consumer need will leap frog their more generic competitors.”

Author: Rowena Curlewis

Website: www.denomination.design