Monday, September 15, 2008

The Allure of Sexy Labels

Q. Hi… I was wondering if you could give your insight on the sexiest wine labels in B.C. I see there's quite the difference in marketing in Canada compared to the U.S. and was wondering what sells your spirits there...
- Stacy

A. People taste with their eyes almost as much as they do with their palate. Certainly if you haven’t had the opportunity to try a particular wine, what is it about it that will inevitably compel you to part with your money? The label, of course.

Sexy packaging has become as big here in B.C., as it has everywhere else…perhaps even more so. That’s because local wines not only have to compete amongst themselves, but with everything else on the marketplace – namely wines from the Australia, California, France, Italy, New Zealand and so forth. While, B.C. consumers do embrace local product, there is an underlying cynicism toward anything domestic – particularly when it comes to wine. Thus the label must grab them, otherwise B.C. bottles will get lost in the sea of choices.

A pretty label goes a long way toward attracting the buyer’s attention, but so does the name. If you need confirmed examples of this, look no further than the struggling local wineries that have gone on to success following a simple name change. With monikers like Prpich and Scherzinger, the proprietors of these two wineries couldn’t give their products away.

But once their names changed to Blasted Church and Dirty Laundry respectively, the bottles just flew off the shelf. Add to that the fact that they introduced some rather imaginative packaging and a great story – Dirty Laundry with a past association with a brothel and Blasted Church and its whimsical Tim Burton-esque labels – and there was instant success.

Wineries I consider to have sexy marketing are:

Laughing Stock – Proprietors David and Cynthia Enns hail from the financial world and used their background for a clever play on words. The packaging features a ticker tape etching wrapping around the bottle.

Howling Bluff – The label features a simple, but charming caricature of a wolf baying.

Road 13 – The new name of the winery formerly know as Golden Mile Cellars, it is named for the road on which it sits and the label is a simple, but eye-catching graphic featuring a black silhouette of a tractor and dog and the name written boldly in red.

See Ya Later Ranch – Formerly Hawthorne, the marketing features anecdotes of the former ranch property owner who was passionate about his dogs. The wines are named for the late pets and many feature angelic depictions of them.
Sandhill – Wines from the Small Lots program are bottled in dark vessels with simple, but elegant etching on them.

Therapy Vineyards – Let’s just say they do Freud proud.

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