July 22, 2015
Whiskey Packaging Design: What’s Next?
In 2013 something outstanding happened to me: I discovered that I love whiskey. Having lived out on the West Coast for over 8 years, I was barely drinking anything other than cold-pressed green juice. After an evening of oysters and drinks on a snowy Chicago night, everything changed. I found my drink: The Manhattan cocktail. The crispness of a great small-batch whiskey mixed with the sweetness of vermouth, all tied together with some craft aromatic bitters and that boozy cherry had me on the first sip. On the rocks, please.
This is all to say: women like whiskey too.
Where Is Whiskey Packaging Design Now?
Working in the food and beverage packaging and design space, I am always observing what products I purchase and what products I pass by. While whiskey packaging design is indeed starting to expand in aesthetic with a lot of modern, clean, and novel approaches, overall the designs are overtly masculine or “Old World” feeling. I want what's inside the bottle, of course, but there's very little on what's outside the bottle to sway my purchasing decision.
New craft distilleries are popping up across the country, definitely an exciting proposition, and with that some updated approaches to whiskey branding. While this is exciting, I think there are a lot of unexplored possibilities that speak to both genders that can successfully market to this new wave of younger whiskey consumers.
What's Next For Whiskey Packaging Design?
As it stands now, the whiskey packaging design market may be predominantly a man’s world. But as a whiskey startup distillery, I know I would want to capitalize on the new generation of whiskey drinkers and appreciators. That translates to whiskey packaging design that doesn’t put off female buyers and packaging that explores modern ways to speak to both genders. Obviously the history and lore of the drink lends to the traditional designs in whiskey packaging, but does whiskey have to feel so old and serious all the time? I'm not talking about wrapping the bottle in pink lace -- just give me something more contemporary and appealing.
Like craft coffee, I think these new small batch whiskey brands are slowly starting to explore some different and modern designs and veer away from heavy masculinity, but there is a lot of opportunity in pushing whiskey packaging design further. An amazing and quality product needs unique and quality design to accompany it. If you want to stand out on the shelves and persuade consumers that your brand is better than your competitor's, focusing on creating a novel and distinctive design aesthetic is paramount.
In the end, do you really want your brand to look like everything else on the shelf that your products will live on?