It’s a jungle out there – literally so amongst the throngs of wine bottles jostling on the supermarket shelves. Their labels feature hippos, penguins and frogs (I wonder if there is an aardvark one yet?) Incidentally if you are interested in unusual wine labels check out Peter May’s site www.winelabels.org. Market research firm AC Nielsen reports that nearly 1 in 5 of the table-wine brands introduced in the last 3 years features an animal on the label – out of the 438 labels launched successfully from 2003 to 2005 animal labels outsold non animal labels 2 to 1.
I was wondering why this is the case. The animal on the label doesn’t have anything to do with the wine – it would be different if it were a bunch of grapes for example. Apparently a forthcoming study in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research aptly entitled “Of Frog Wines and Frowning Watches: Semantic Priming, Perceptual Fluency, and Brand Evaluation” by Aparna A. Labroo, Ravi Dhar, and Norbert Schwarz, reveals why this tactic works.
They say that their study is:
“to our knowledge, this is the first experimental demonstration of the beneficial effects of unique visual identifiers that are not meaningfully related to the nature of the product.”
As they point out “among marketers, there has been a growing trend to employ unusual visual identifiers that have little, if anything, to do with the product. For example, designer clothing is sold with the insignia of an arrow or a crocodile.” This has the advantage of getting people to identify with their logo and grabbing their attention. This way the logo becomes part of the brand’s identity.
Then I get slightly lost with their theory – they suggest that these visual images may be semantically cued and that this encourages us to identify with the image. They make the point that if a consumer spots a wine with a frog on the label and have watched the Muppet Show then they identify Kermit with the wine and it becomes attractive to them. I can see where they are coming from but I suppose it depends on whether you like frogs or not.
I must admit that I do think people think visually – being faced with straight text can be boring and if you are trying to get an idea across then a photo or an image really helps. Logos symbolise the product and the more people that identify with your logo the more you are likely to sell your product.
Given that a label is a very small space in which to tell the consumer about your wine then you have to get it right. Ellen McCoy pointed out in her article “Sexy Images, Wacky Names, Fine Art Help Wine Labels Stand Out” that labels are all-important. Ronnie Sanders of Philadelphia’s Vine Street Imports told McCoy that:
“The Shinas Estate had a terrible label but great wines . . . their shiraz was called Shallow Creek, and the label was a picture of where the owner went fishing. It took me two years to sell 600 cases.”
Shinas’s owner was a criminal court judge, so Sanders suggested changing the labels so they “tell a story.” The winery called its next shiraz The Guilty and its viognier The Innocent. In the autumn of 2007, Sanders expects to sell 5,000 cases of the Shinas Estate brands, up 20% from last year and more than 16 times what he sold before the labels were changed.
The best advice that I can offer is not to judge a book by its cover – it doesn’t matter how fantastic the label is on the bottle – it’s what’s inside that counts.
Images Courtesy of www.flickr.com