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How ''Critters'' Help Sell Wine and Beer


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How ''Critters'' Help Sell Wine and Beer

Introducing a new author for the Lightning Labels blog: Christy Correll. Christy is our online marketing specialist and has been with Lightning Labels since the start of the year. She has a background in journalism and online marketing, and will be a regular contributor here.


Animals help sell alcoholic beverages. This is not news. AC Nielsen released a report three years ago about this wine label phenomenon. What is news is we now have an idea of why using images of kangaroos, penguins, frogs, dogs, and other animals to peddle our products from store shelves has been so successful. Black-lab-label-design A new study by University of Chicago Booth School of Business professor Aparna Labroo, Ravi Dhar of Yale University, and Norbert Schwartz of the University of Michigan suggests consumers buy products with labels that reflect the consumer, not the product. The findings of the report go against the traditional branding strategy of designing labels based on what the product is about. The next time you walk down a wine or beer aisle, look closely at the bottle labels. In a wine aisle, you will find many labels depicting grapes, vineyards, and the countries where the wines are produced in. In a beer aisle, you will see many product labels featuring different types of grains and words describing beer. These images give the consumer information about the product behind the label, i.e., what the product is made from, how it tastes, and where it was produced. The makers of these beverages are following the traditional branding strategy of designing product labels based on the product itself. During that same stroll down the wine or beer aisle, will also notice a number of bottle labels featuring all kinds of animals -- and not just cute, fuzzy things such as the black lab on Spanish Peaks Black Dog Ale or the perky penguin on the Little Penguin Shiraz. Bad-frog-label-design Some of the critters on these beverage labels are ugly, if not downright menacing. Take the frog on Bad Frog Beer’s product label, for example. Draped over the lettering of the product logo, he stares the consumer straight in the eye and shoots him the middle finger. Why would anyone pick that beer over one of comparable quality and taste? In an article for Chicago Booth Magazine about the new study, Vanessa Sumo explains how putting an animal on their product label could help a wine maker build a better brand. Sumo gives the example of how a woman who frequently sees and hears great things about Kermit the Frog from her son is likely to purchase a bottle of wine with a frog on the label if she has minimal time to make a purchasing decision.

Familiarity with Kermit the Frog actually makes it easier for a consumer to visually process the image on the label. This enhances the label’s appeal and as a result makes the "frog wine" more desirable relative to its competitors.

The point is that familiarity with a particular animal on a product label causes a harried shopper to buy that product. The consumer already has a pre-established relationship with a specific animal, and transfers it to the product because of the label. If the same woman featured in Labroo, Dhar, and Schwartz’s study had been shopping for beer, would she have ended up choosing a case of Bad Frog Beer over Spanish Peaks Black Dog Ale? What if she didn’t have a son who adored Kermit the Frog, but a loyal black Labrador retriever instead?

Even if you are not in the wine and beer industry, it might be a good idea to take the findings of this study to heart the next time you re-evaluate your product label design. When was the last time you did that, by the way? I would love to hear if your product packaging design is currently working for you, as well as what -- if any -- changes you have made to your label designs over the years and how they have affected your sales. Related Posts

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