The Power of Packaging: How to Win Over the Hearts and Minds of Consumers

On average, people make about 35,000 decisions every day. I am endlessly fascinated by what drives a person’s decision-making process. As a beverage marketer, I am particularly interested in what sways a person to select one bottle, can or box over another and put it in the shopping cart, whether virtual or in-store. There is no set formula that shows why a person selects one product over another, but we can try to better understand the people behind the purchases, and zero in on some of the factors that influence decision-making.


One important factor relates to packaging. According to Nielsen, 64% of consumers try a new product because the package catches their eye, and 41% will continue to purchase a product because they prefer its design. In a study completed by Nielsen on wine packaging design for wines under $20, the bottles that grabbed consumers’ attention best had brightly colored labels and capsules. The personality of a brand projected through the packaging is also influential, and what really differentiates one brand from another. For wines above $10, Nielsen found that millennials gravitated towards brands that portrayed a feeling of adventure and displayed a more bold design, while Gen Xers and Boomers preferred more traditional designs. With 48.2 million millennials in the U.S. using Instagram, brands that resonate with the millennials may find more opportunity for engagement and social sharing.


Wine in a can is a growing category in the U.S., and listed on Whole Foods Market’s Top 10 Food Trends for 2016. Drinking wine from a can is a more fun, casual way of imbibing and can make single-serving consumption easy just about anywhere from campgrounds to ball parks to backyard BBQs. According to Nielsen data, the wine-in-a-can category (sparkling and still wines) surpassed $10 million in sales and grew more than 65 percent in dollar within the off-premise sales channels tracked in the year ending February 27, 2016. In terms of packaging, as more brands enter the market, it will be interesting to see which brands are most appealing to which consumers. Some wine-in-can brands now on the shelves seem more geared toward the craft brew-drinking crew with bold logos and color-contrast in the design. Other packaging seems to be designed to appeal more to people who enjoy sparkling beverages.


As with any brand-building endeavor, knowing the user (or drinker) of a product is key, and understanding why a person chooses one bottle or can over another should guide packaging design. Packaging greatly influences purchase-making decisions for product trial and re-purchases, especially in the beverage aisle. To really understand why people select the products they do, we need to be talking to the people purchasing the products and also selling the products, both in-store and online. Connecting with customers, as well as people on the trade side, will help us begin to get the real answers to what drives decision-making.

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