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Vinexposium
/ 21 Jun, 2022
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Changing consumer patterns: which packaging will appeal to consumers in 2030?

FINDINGS #3
20 JUNE 2022


SYMPOSIUM “ACT FOR CHANGE”
PANEL DISCUSSION: “CHANGING CONSUMER HABITS: 
WHICH PACKAGING WILL APPEAL TO CONSUMERS IN 2030?”




INTRODUCTION

On 20 and 21 June 2022, international professionals and experts gathered at the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux for the second edition of the Symposium “Act for Change”. These two days of talks were organised to shed light on the major changes and impacts on the production and distribution of wines and spirits by 2030. It was an opportunity to get together and discuss, exchange ideas and work together to better prepare ourselves for the challenges that await the wine world in the coming years. 

What packaging will wine bottles have in the future? Above all, Lulie Halstead believes there is a need to bridge the gap between the desire to change consumption habits for the sake of the climate and the measures actually taken. This observation is shared by Damien Barton Sartorius, who believes that premium wine consumers are not ready. James Law and Rob Malin propose alternatives to glass bottles.

SPEAKERS

This great debate was moderated by Lucy Britner, Editor-in-Chief of Drinks Retailing & “Keeper of the Quaich”. Around the table were Lulie Halstead, Director and co-founder of Wine Intelligence at IWSR, Damien Barton Sartorius, Co-Manager of Barton Family Wines, James Law, Brand and Development Manager, East London Liquor Company, and Rob Malin, Founder of When in Rome.


THEME: WHAT PACKAGING WILL CONSUMERS PREFER IN 2030?

THE PERCEPTION GAP BETWEEN THE REALITY OF THE WINE BUSINESS AND CONSUMER BELIEFS

At Wine Intelligence, we have measured the gap between being concerned about climate change and a real desire to buy sustainable, eco-friendly packaging. In Canada, for example, 63% of people say they are concerned about climate change, but only 19% buy sustainable packaging. The same is true in Australia, where 67% of people are convinced that climate change is real, but only 21% are responsible buyers. This gap is also true in Sweden and the UK. This means that we are not communicating well on how to be climate-friendly, but it is also a great opportunity for us to rethink the way our packaging is made. 

What do consumers want from a brand that claims to be eco-friendly? First, they want them to support social issues. This was already a trend that brands were turning to, which was accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. Then, regarding what consumers perceive to be a sustainable wine, our data, which represents global averages and is collected every year, is interesting. Statistically, there is a stronger connection between consumers and sustainability compared to previous years. 

Firstly, 59% of respondents said that glass is a sustainable alternative for them. Why? This is because they consider that the bottles are recycled and that they do not constitute an environmental problem. But the complete opposite is true. Secondly, 37% of respondents consider the bag-in-box alternative to be less sustainable, which is in fact false.

Here is another example demonstrating the gap between consumer perception and reality. We tested various labels to determine the factors that drive buyers to purchase a bottle of wine. For the past five years, we have seen the same phenomenon every year. The mention of an award received, regardless of whether the wine is natural or not, increases the possibility of purchase quite significantly. 

In 2030, we will mainly find glass bottles on the shelves. There will certainly be proportionally more packaging formats, especially in markets dominated by strong retailers such as the UK and Australia. They will show the way and it will be one of their responsibilities, as was the case with screw caps. 

(Lulie Halstead, Director and co-founder of Wine Intelligence (IWSR))

THE DIFFICULTY FOR FINE WINE CONSUMERS TO ACCEPT A DIFFERENT WAY OF PACKAGING WINE

With global warming, I realised how important the issue of sustainability is to our customers. People want to know if our wine is certified organic and how often the tractors go across our plots, among other things. But the real issue for me is packaging. This is the area with the most greenhouse gas emissions. 

However, consumers are not ready for packaging to change, especially when it comes to premium grands crus, in this case, the Saint-Julien appellation. So we decided to take bottles back after they’re empty to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This also improves all bottle recycling processes, taking into account, for example, the use of water-based glue for our labels. 

We thought when we set up this system that 80 to 90% of the bottles would be returned. However, only 20% of the bottles were returned. This shows, as Lulie Halstead pointed out, the gap between the interest in climate change and the real desire by consumers to change habits.

With these new solutions, we are nevertheless proud of our products because we do offer a low-carbon solution. This is essential for us. With this sense of changing the way we package wine, the glass bottle itself is called into question. Of course, we have been using bottles for 100 years and it’s hard to change habits. Yet obviously, a fine wine in a lighter bottle is still a fine wine.

Like Lulie Halstead, I believe that by 2030 glass bottles will still be found on the shelves of cellars and supermarkets. I do hope that at least most will be recycled. This is one of the challenges that French, Italian and Spanish wine producers can meet. It is up to them to sell locally as well, not in China or the United States, where demand is highest, and always with the intention of reducing carbon emissions.

(Damien Barton Sartorius, Co-Manager of Barton Family Wines)

REUSING PACKAGING BY RELYING ON CONSUMERS’ INTELLIGENCE TO REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS

In the UK, many distilleries have thought about what an eco-friendly container recycling programme could look like. A single, large container that can be reused, at least 1.6 times before being recycled, as is the case today. I would like to point out that 13% of glass containers recycled in the UK are used for road construction.

This is why our programme relies on customers and a new awareness of recycling. In our system, any bottle can be used, provided that it is clean and 75 cl in size. With the creation of this truly circular economy, it is possible to use a bottle of Suze to drink whisky and vice versa. I think that consumers are ready to do things differently and that they are attracted to the concept. 

To follow up on what Lucie Halstead and Damien Barton Sartorius have already said, I am convinced that consumers are not yet aware of these latest developments. And changes to habits take time and their actual implementation takes years. But if we don’t change them radically, we won’t be here at the end of the century. Hence the necessity to take action quickly.

The English Whisky Guild, created 6 weeks ago, does not discuss packaging at all. They talk about the spirit, its advantages over others or why it doesn’t need to be aged for twelve years. But people need to understand the benefit of these solutions. I think that these sustainable solutions, outlined above, should be taxed less than other systems. This is, in my opinion, the only way to have a real impact. 

(James Law, Brand & Development Manager, East London Liquor Company)

PACKAGING AS A TOOL TO EDUCATE CONSUMERS

The figures put forward by Lulie Halstead are interesting. At When In Rome, as a company, we see the problem clearly. 39% of carbon production in the wine sector comes from glass bottles. My role is to change these bad habits. Of course, this is not our main focus. Instead, we focus on the quality of the wines with over 60 producers in Italy. With our company, we are really mindful of our carbon footprint at all levels. We work with Carbon Lab, a Swedish company, to measure our greenhouse gas emissions at all levels. 

If you compare wine to red meat, red meat is much more carbon-intensive. With bag-in-boxes, it is possible to reduce these emissions by 80%. We also make cans and paper bottles. There is plastic inside this paper bottle, which customers do not see. Speaking of which, it’s interesting to talk about consumer perception. Clearly, people linger on this paper bottle just because it’s a bottle. This is not “greenwashing” as our solution is 6 times less carbon-intensive than glass bottles. Then we offer the same prices as the glass alternative, and the paper solution is pleasant to touch.

This perception gap between customer expectations and market reality is huge. Educating consumers takes time, as those working in marketing tell us, and I realise that this is true. Behind When In Rome, there is the idea of reusing and producing less, six times less than with a glass bottle to be precise. For us, it is possible to learn from each sector to improve. Because in my opinion, wine is the product whose packaging has the strongest impact.

(Rob Malin, Founder of When in Rome)
 

About Vinexposium
Vinexposium is the world's leading organizer of wine and spirits trade events with a portfolio of iconic and recognized events. The group also draws on its digital portal Vinexposium Connect to maximise the scope of its events and serve the industry’s business interests across the globe 365 days a year.
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