Why so much hype about the label?

Posted on May 09, 2018

What is everyone on about? - Are there really so many psychological influences and visual influences contained in the make up of a wine label? Does that little piece of paper, be it a sticker on a bottle or a print-on, does it really make such a difference in the greater realms of marketing and consumer interest? Is the label possibly your direct passage to increased awareness – and ultimately higher sales margins? The truth is, that anyone still thinking that these are merely industry statements, marketing myths or “sales allegations”, had better take a serious reality check or check out… 

The actual Google “Wiki” description of a [wine label] reads as follows: “Wine labels are important sources of information for consumers since they tell the type and origin of the wine. ... Certain information is ordinarily included in the wine label, such as the country of origin, quality, type of wine, alcoholic degree, producer, bottler, or importer.” Yes, all that to a tee in theory, that’s exactly what a label IS – but what it DOES, goes a (significant) way further than just the line of duty, then it begins its purpose... 


Sure enough the wine label is there to give the consumer a source of reference and basic information. What sort of wine it is, who produces it, the vintage, blend, etc. These key aspects are already playing a game with the shoppers’ mental gatekeeper of psychological choice – but they’re not the key negotiators. It’s the big boys who come in through the subtler aspects of label persuasion, in the form of things like eye catching imagery, clever creative design, appealing fonts, colours, textures, paper selection and so on.  Even things like the appeal and weight of the bottle, the neck sleeve, a neck tag – sometimes regardless of what its advertising, but simply because it’s giving the consumer the impression of “more”, are all major role players in the successful execution of a sale.

Does the back label also play a part in this quest?

Oh yes it certainly does. It might not be as fancy as the lead actor (the front label) but it also has a significant support role to play none the less. If the consumer has gone so far as to pick up the bottle and turn it around to see what’s on the back label, then that’s tantamount to that final rugby pass, tricky - but in hands of the guy who must carry the ball over. The back label has a purpose unique to the front label in that it no longer needs to seduce you, but still needs to convince you and seal the deal. Therefore, most successful back labels are those that offer the consumer just a fraction more to make them believe in their choice. (Having the bottle in hand is approximately a 75% positive decision made).


Here producers (marketers and designers) need to keep in mind the importance of one last weight to tip the scale. It could be something as simple as a pairing suggestion or a producer fact, whichever it relates to, it needs to impress. The back-label department remains a sketchy directive in terms of what you should or shouldn’t use to make it effective, but in most cases an accurate brand or producer profile will dictate your options to you. For instance, if you are the producer of an original style of wine, a blend or something unique that makes you stand out amongst others, then use that. Awards are often stickers found on the front of a bottle and thus need not be repeated on the back. Sometimes a personal touch like a message from the winemaker or a statement by the owner of an estate will carry a lot more clout than a monotonous flavour description of black berries, dark fruit, leather and lemon grass.


 Mandatory extras 

Here we’re talking about the statutory certifications, trade ordinance, authorisations and so on. They simply must be printed on the label for various legal reasons, consumer acts and trade regulations, so there’s no way of getting around that. In most cases it doesn’t really offend the label design at all and if incorporated creatively these criteria can even enhance the design.

On the other hand, the affiliations, funding initiatives, NPO’s and other non-regulative bodies an estate may belong to (by choice) are not always compulsory to include on bottle labels, but in the case of economic and sustainable developments for instance, it may well be worthwhile putting these things on the label. Consumers are becoming more and more aware and informed about the products they buy, selection was never made just on price alone – and never will be but being aware of an estate’s “good deeds” (for lack of a better description) does in fact have a major influence and can cause the consumer to feel a sense of “buying into” or supporting such efforts.



Cheers, and may you have delightful label-encounters!


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