Hit the bottle
Our very own Simon Gore highlights key trends, new products and innovations; all geared to inspiring all facets of the Beer, Wines & Spirits market to greater heights.
Whilst the design for Beavertown’s iconic ‘craft’ pale ale, Gamma Ray, undoubtedly sailed close to the wind when it came to respecting the Portman Group packaging guidelines, with its irreverent colour palette and comic book styling, the blurring of design codes between soft and hard continues.
This is all part of the ‘craft’ phenomenon in drinks marketing (or is it a bandwagon?) that continues to change and become multi-faceted. Whilst craft brands are still being created with authentic brand stories and artisanal production – Isle of Harris gin and Black Cow vodka being two of my personal favourites – ‘truth’ and purpose are no longer enough for today’s younger, more demanding consumers, and can come across as rather worthy.
Two other characteristics are coming to the fore, namely ‘play’ and ‘balance’, both adding relevance and appeal to emerging brands and products. ‘Play’, firstly, is about offering a more experiential proposition, with which consumers can experiment with more complex tastes and sensorial textures. There’s an irreverence here, which makes craft ale brands like ‘Goldilocks is Dead’ from the Brewery of Angels & Demons more playful and intriguing. The world is now explored, ‘tasted’ and shared on Instagram, ensuring that this new playfulness grows in importance.
Secondly, a considered desire for ‘balance’ has added layers to craft, with younger consumers demanding things in more moderation, and with a mindfulness and control far superior to their lemming-like parents. This not only extends to a want for drinking less and for lower alcohol propositions, but a drive to a less risky lifestyle, and a greater responsibility to be taken by drinks producers in relation to health and planet.
Ben Branson’s Seedlip brand is a veritable masterclass in truth, play and balance, and he deserves all the accolades he gets for helping the world define ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking’. Timing is still everything in innovation, and as Victor Hugo said, ‘there is nothing more powerful as an idea whose time has come’. In three years, Seedlip has grown to nearly 60 employees and its three flavour varieties are now served in over 250 Michelin starred restaurants, as well as 6,000 plus accounts globally. Ben’s work is a testament to the old adage that innovation is ‘1% inspiration, 99% perspiration’, but he’s undoubtedly a visionary to watch in the coming years.
With success comes the flattery of competition, with Ceder’s, Borrago, Sea Arch and Stryyk to name a few of Seedlip’s followers. But Ben didn’t just set out to found a drinks company, he has a higher and much more motivating purpose:
Seedlip is a nature company – we’re working with the natural world to change the way the world drinks!’
Ben Branson - Founder - Seedlip
So there is a growing enjoyment of temperance against this backdrop of uncertainty and change. Whilst older generations always viewed no or lower alcohol as punitive, the young see ‘nolo’ as much more of a positive choice. Especially when enjoyed with a vibrant and sharable experience, with mixology rituals and exotic garnishes. Drinking less and lower is generally also a cheaper choice, which fits nicely with their wise before their years planet-positive habit of drinking lowly tap water.
As a final ‘note’ on another emerging initiative in the ‘play’ arena, you’ve enjoyed pairing drinks with food, but how about pairing wine with music? Jimmy Brings, Australia’s first on-demand alcohol delivery service has teamed up with Spotify to curate ‘The Songmelier Edition’. The three-pack of wines includes an Australian Sparkling, Sauvignon Blanc and Reserve Shiraz, and each wine is paired with a Spotify playlist so you can stream apt beats while sipping on your vino. The playlists have been curated to ‘beat match’ the aroma, character and body of each wine. Accessible via the Spotify Codes on the front of each wine label, wine lovers simply scan the code using the Spotify app to discover the tunes behind the tannins.
Into Sparkling? It’s paired with Hip Hop, Bubblegum Trap and the West Coast notes of Hustle and Grind. For a more refreshing palate, the Sav Blanc is matched with Indie, Tropical House and Aussietronica, with a hint of Chillwave and an Electrofox finish. Shiraz lovers will be delighted by some smooth Jazz, raw Rock ’n’ Roll, soft Freak Folk, and a Deep House finish.
All part of the rapidly incoming tsunami of connected packaging technology - watch this space. And no, QR codes are not dead, just ask the 724,000,000 Chinese who use mobile phones to go online.