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Packaging innovation runneth over in the beer category.

Steve Dwyer, CSP Reporter

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Copycat Times

Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it would not shock retailers to see crossover trends manifest within the packaged-beer segment.

Brewers that recognize the need to broaden the innovation spectrum with, say, a new package size might replicate A-B InBev’s 25-ounce can innovation—finding a low-cost process that adds an ounce or two into a vessel, says Faulkner of Fastrip.

Others could see value in striving for a better drinking experience, so on the innovation table might be a bottle replicating Miller Lite’s new broad-shouldered, contoured-grip bottle, which provides beer lovers “a long-overdue reinvented look and drinking experience,” according to a company statement.

The bottle was designed by 4sight Inc., and it came to fruition based upon a process that included Miller Lite consumers interactively brainstorming during targeted focus groups. Conversely, brewers might see credence in taking a core part of their logo and more prominently displaying it—in the spirit of Budweiser’s bow-tie-shaped aluminum can, which mirrors Budweiser’s iconic bowtie logo. The proprietary can, in development since 2010, comes solely in 8-packs and will not replace the traditional Budweiser can.

Faulkner considers the new can attractive but a case of form over function. It’s difficult to stack the product in a warm floor display, he says, for fear cans will be dented or even crushed based on characteristics of the new aluminum design.

“We found early that when stacked high, cans were dented,” he says. “I think it’s a clever idea, but maybe not meant for every retail environment.”

The one prevailing trend that will hold sway, says Faulkner, is the tendency of beer loyalists to plunk down money for beer that’s on sale. “The beers we build promotional campaigns around on a weekly basis get the consistent ring. So if it’s a Budweiser bow-tie can that’s on promotion, customers buy it,” he says. “It’s that simple: People buy packages based on promotion first, innovation second.” 

Boxing Bottle in Fighting Shape

John Alvarado, vice president of brand marketing for Chicago-based Crown Imports LLC, says you don’t mess with success. However, there are exceptions to the rule.

The company’s Corona brand has what Alvarado calls “healthy brand recognition. The glass bottle is iconic and fosters passion. We are true to who we are. That said, we often look at opportunities for new innovations.”

Enter the third year Crown Imports has featured a limited-edition package that ties to either soccer or boxing. Starting in mid-August, Corona again began distribution of bottles with a new design consisting of some familiar faces.

The boxing legends on bottles include Miguel Cotto, Bernard Hopkins and Erik Morales. New up-and-comers are Peter Quillin, Abner Mares and Danny Garcia. These images will appear in 18-packs of 12-ounce bottles distributed across 32 states, primarily to areas with a large Hispanic demographic.

“The bottle offers are short-lived because as soon as the boxing match is over, the limited bottles go away,” says Raul Ruiz, brand manager for Corona.

Alvarado says Hispanic-owned c-stores likely will carry the 18-packs, but most Walmarts will stock it, too.

 Describing the way a bottler can use shrink-wrap technology to maximize design excellence, Alvarado says the plant “took an empty bottle and performed shrink wrap to mold to the bottle. The Corona bottle remains intact, and the shrink wrap is contoured to the bottle,” he explains.

 In discussing the sales uptick he anticipates from the limited-edition bottle, Ruiz says, “we do expect to see an increase in display activity, which is good news for us.” 


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