The Wine Intelligence Wine Label Design: Australian Market 2021 report identifies 14 label designs that are representative of the label styles currently available in the Australian market, and reveals which label styles connect best with Australian consumers
What is a wine label for? Beyond the legal requirements that must be met for a product to be sold, a wine’s label is the canvas by which a producer can convey feelings, ideas and associations. These feelings are crucial at two moments in a wine’s life. The first, when picking a product up from a crowded shelf, requires the label to stand out and be noticed – in a positive way. The second, at a consumption occasion, requires the label to fit with the mood and support the role that the wine is destined to play in that occasion.
Given the complexity of these demands, it is little wonder that label design carries such importance in the wine category, far more than many producers (and consumers) would like to admit. The wine industry may convince itself that the underlying quality of a product will normally be a good guide to its success in a competitive marketplace. However, what happens if several products meet a perceived quality threshold? If other purchase cues, such as price and wine style are also similar, what wins the sale? In the end, when there is no other differentiating factor, the label may prove to be the X factor.
New insight from the Australian market gives us some pause for thought. Wine consumers in Australia (and elsewhere) are generally seeking reassurance in what they buy and drink. There is an innate reluctance to buy into the avant-garde, and a natural affinity to what one might classify as ‘old school’ wine values. Aggressive designs might achieve standout on shelf, the first of the requirements for success as outlined above, and yet they may stumble when it comes to the second – the fit with consumer needs. Thus, we must tread a careful path. Distinctiveness wins attention, but it must also reassure the consumer and be ‘central’ to the category conventions to win the order.
Fortunately, there is some room for creativity – not all consumer segments see labels in the same light. Crucially, there is also a difference between designs for red and white wine. Consumer preferences seem to be more heterogenous when it comes to white wines compared with red wines. This may arise from the type of consumer that tends to buy white more than red; equally, it seems influenced in part by the role that a red wine might need to play – more typically with food, and possibly more likely in a social setting.