To attract Millennials, packaging redesign leverages a beer brand’s heritage

By Kate Bertrand Connolly in Beverage Packaging on February 11, 2016

Making 600 years of brewing experience relevant to young, drinking-age Americans was Hacker-Pschorr Brewery’s goal in a recent packaging design. The Munich-based brewery aced the challenge, redesigning its U.S multipacks to feature a high-impact wraparound message and bright new graphics. The result is beverage packaging that confidently asserts the brand’s heritage and looks thoroughly contemporary while doing so.

One reason for the redesign was Hacker-Pschorr’s new brewery, which is outfitted with all new packaging equipment; some packaging components needed to be redesigned to run on the equipment. The new bottle has a slightly different shape than the old one, for that reason.

Also spurring the change was the brand owner’s recognition that U.S. Millennials weren’t drinking Hacker-Pschorr to the same extent as older generations. The brand is sold in 42 states and is particularly popular in Wisconsin and Illinois—but primarily among older consumers.

“The transition to the new facility was a technical motivation, but the brand itself was in need of refreshing. So as we went into this, we had to consider where the brand is in its life cycle,” says Charles Stanley, U.S. brand manager for Hacker-Pschorr at Paulaner USA. Paulaner imports and distributes Hacker-Pschorr’s beers, including Weisse, Munich Gold, Oktoberfest, Weisse Dark, Munich Dark and Mai Bock, in the United States.

The remark of a Millennial restaurant worker in Chicago captures the brand’s problem; she told Stanley that Hacker-Pschorr is her father’s favorite beer. “People who have been drinking it for the last 15 to 20 years are drinking it today, and eventually that’s going to catch up with us if we don’t start bringing in some younger consumers,” Stanley observes.

The trick in the redesign was to pull in those younger drinkers by making the multipacks pop on-shelf and to do it without alienating the brand’s established customer base. The various sizes of multipacks, all with new graphics, are rolling out currently. Hacker-Pschorr plans to update its labels later this year. The 330-milliliter bottles, of amber glass, are decorated with glue-applied labels and topped with a conventional crown closure.

Unlike the old multipacks, on which the main graphic element was a photo of a Hacker-Pschorr bottle, the new ones display a large photo of the beer in a glass. “We want to show what the actual beer looks like, because this beer is beautiful,” Stanley says. “We want to give the customer the opportunity to see what he or she will be buying.”

The other dominant design element is the message “600 Years Brewing Experience,” which starts on the side panel and wraps around to the end panel on the multipacks.

“We knew going into this we needed to stay true to our brand DNA. We didn’t want to try to chase a trend in order to appeal to younger people. We wanted to stick to our core assets, our experience being the most important of them,” Stanley explains. The brand identity includes “being entirely upfront with what we are. So we wanted to state boldly, for everyone to see, 600 years of brewing experience is what we’re proud of.”

In light of the craft beer movement, some consumers may think newer is better, but “we’re not going to try to pretend like we’re some new brewery. We’re going to tell you what we are,” he adds. At the same time, the redesigned graphics look “very clean and modern, very classy. Hopefully the combination of the modern design with the statement of our experience demonstrates that being experienced and having heritage doesn’t mean you can’t be modern and relevant.”

The package redesign also uses a brighter palette than in the past and includes a brief on-pack description of the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery and its various styles of beer. For example, Weisse is unfiltered wheat beer, and text on the Weisse packaging explains the proper way to pour it.

The redesign was developed in-house at Hacker-Pschorr, and the brewery worked with Colell & Kampmann Design GmbH in Hamburg, Germany, to refine it.

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