There's a revolution going on in the U.S. wine industry. A growing number of wineries and suppliers are recognizing that innovative packaging - along with high quality wine - will have a profound effect on brand sales and longevity. New brands are utilizing creative packaging formats like cans and cartons and unique serving sizes to create excitement and increase differentiation. Another trend is the proliferation of screwcap closures in lieu of a traditional cork. Offering many benefits that appeal to consumers seeking more convenient packaging, an increasing number of wines from around the world are coming on board.
The savvy marketers at Pacific Wine Partners in Gonzales, CA, take this mantra to heart. With the help of United Closures and Plastics Limited (UCP), a division of Global Closure Systems (GCS), they were the first company to introduce a new brand to the market whose bottles were all screwcap. This bold step clearly communicates the important role closures - and packaging in general - play in determining how consumers view a brand.
Pacific Wine Partners (PWP) has built a reputation as one of California's leading wine producers by strategically targeting wine segments and styles that are in sync with market growth and trends. The Twin Fin brand, which retials for about $10, offers a model example. From the beginning, Twin Fin was not intended to be a typical wine. While still aiming for a classic taste, winemakers Hugh Reimers and Sam Burton wanted to capture the laid-back, free-spirited California attitude - in other words, a wine that was just plain fun.
Market research indicated consumers were ready for just such a brand. PWP knew that the packaging and positioning for Twin Fin would have to be fresh and innovative for the brand to be successful. "The 20- and 30-something consumers - who are unlikely to be wine connoisseurs - tend to choose brands that resonate with them on an emotional level," points out Damon Musha, marketing director for PWP. While the hip, younger consumer was a key target, PWP also wanted Twin Fin to appeal to the baby boomer generation. The company finally settled on a cool, retro label portraying a vintage convertible with a twin fin surfboard hanging off the back - intended to remind consumers of summer, fun, and good friends.
PWP also zeroed in on the bottle closure as an area where they could offer this kind of added-value to consumers. For brand owners, the screwcap closure style protects the freshness and vibrancy of flavors, eliminates the risk of taint and leakage and ensures consistent quality and performance. On the consumer side, screwcaps are quick and easy-to-open and conveniently reseal after use. After much internal debate, PWP opted to seal the entire portfolio of Twin Fin wines with screwcap closures, making it the first brand to commit 100% to screwcap.
"In the case of Twin Fin, we wanted a closure that would make beach bonfires and barbecues that much easier and would fit the 'take anywhere' and 'let's not complicate wine' attitude that the brand embraces," explains Musha. "The screwcap was the ideal choice." UCP offered a 30x60 closure that was compatible with existing glass standards and conventional ROPP application technology. The closure was fully EU/UK/FDA approved for food contact and is offered with a number of different liner options.
UCP produced a closure and liner combination that offered the most protection against oxygen ingress. They also advised PWP on the closure design, which is side-decorated to match the surfing imagery on the label, enhancing brand recognition. The final piece of the puzzle was ensuring PWP was able to effectively make the transition to aluminum closures, which are much less tolerant of misalignment and which require a tight range of allowable twisting tension to ensure a proper seal.
In its first year, Twin Fin generated higher retail dollar sales than any other label launched in the U.S. that year. Riding the wave of Twin Fin's success, PWP introduced The Beach Cruiser, a brightly colored 4-pack of 187-ml bottles with screwcap closures.