Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

March 24, 2015

7 Min Read
10 beverage packaging breakthroughs that get touchy-feely with consumers

Beverage packaging designs that elicit an emotional response from their target audience tend to do quite well in the marketplace. It could be a Millennial-favored new-age aseptic carton or an electrifying label that pulses to the beat at a club.

The first three months of 2015 has seen a bevy of beverage packaging debuts. Our Top 10 list starts with an unusual material for beer bottles…

1. Carlsberg supports biodegradable, wood-fiber beverage bottle

Carlsberg is partnering with molded-fiber packaging supplier ecoXpac on a biodegradable, wood-fiber beverage bottle. The three-year packaging design and development project on the Green Fiber Bottle initiative includes collaboration with Innovation Fund Denmark and the Technical University of Denmark. The goal is to create a 100% biodegradable beverage bottle using sustainably sourced wood fiber. The partners plan to use bio-based and biodegradable materials in all parts of the Green Fiber Bottle, including its closure.

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2. Aseptic packaging stirs up the beverage business

LiDestri Food & Beverage wants to change the face of the beverage aisle from the ho-hum round bottle to what it sees as the stand-out package of the future: aseptic cartons. To that end, the privately-held company has invested in two new packaging lines at its Pennsauken, NJ, plant to gear up for a surge in contract business for aseptic packaging. LiDestri has several customers already, including Mocked Up, which launched a line of alcohol-free cocktails, called mocktails, in October 2014.

Benefits of this package format include shelf impact because of the package’s flat front panel and ability to be printed with high-end graphics; shelf stable for shipping economies (non-refrigerated trucks); better product taste than hot-fill because flavors aren’t cooked away; space efficient for in-coming (roll-fed) and out-going shipments (cube); food safety because caps are applied after filling, so seal integrity is maintained; and a longer shelf life (compared to hot-fill packaging), which enables manufacturers to expand distribution and can help minimize product waste because consumers have more time to use the product before it spoils.

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3. New foil wrap for Lipton tea bags brightens the day

Unilever has updated the packaging of its Lipton tea bags with foil-wrapped packs that connect directly with the brand’s tagline “Brighten your day with Lipton tea.” Instead of having each tea bag individually wrapped in white, Lipton now has four group packs in its 100 count box. Shiny gold foil reflects the brand’s goal of brightening the customer’s day. The foil packs look like gold bullion bars, making tea drinkers feel rich with satisfaction. A cut-out in the front of the carton in the shape of a tea leaf gives consumers a peek at the inner stay-fresh pack.

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4. Skyy’s limited-edition bottle gets electrifying design

Skyy Vodka partnered with design firm Mode Design Group to bring fresh thinking to a limited-edition package uniquely designed for nightlife experiences. The result, Skyy Electrifyy, features a graphic LED label that moves to the beat of the music. Integrated into the new soft-touch label are dozens of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). A special color-coordinated base houses the batteries, sound sensors and power switch. When turned on, the LEDs create a constant illumination of the Skyy logo. With the addition of ambient music, a group of LEDs, arranged in the shape of equalizer bars, move to the beat.

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5. Uber-functional spirits bottle shakes up bartending

Nobody knows beverage packaging like a bartender, and to leverage their knowledge, spirits brand owner The 86 Co. asked professional bartenders to participate in its packaging design process. Their insights helped the company create an on-premise spirits bottle that emphasizes ease of use, with easy-to-remove labeling that encourages reuse of the rigid containers.

Recognizing that bartenders pour and hold bottles differently, and to reduce the possibility of physical strain or long-term injury, The 86 Co. designed the ergonomic bottle to accommodate a variety of pouring styles. In all, it has three grip zones: at neck, mid-bottle and base.

Additionally, the brand owner chose a roll on pilfer proof (ROPP) aluminum screw cap—with no foil over the closure—to speed up bottle opening.

With an eye to reuse, The 86 Co. designed the bottle with a vertical scale of fluid-ounce and quarter-liter measurements. The scale, which is revealed when the labels are removed, is handy for inventory control and for making infusions, syrups and batches of cocktails.

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6. 3D package design elevates liquor’s tactile lure

The Hard to Port brand jumps out of a sea of liquor bottles with a sculpted octopus draped over the shoulder and side of the, for-now, concept bottle. The octopus is rendered with engraved and etched details. A finger hole molded into the neck of the 1.75-liter polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle also is decorated with intricate, textural embellishments.

To achieve the breakthrough tactile effects, which would not be possible with conventional 3D-modeling software, ScorCreative structural design studio used a combination of proprietary software and modified applications from the automotive, gaming, motion picture and animation industries. Labeling also is innovative, featuring burnt-edge labels die cut to accommodate the high-relief tentacles of the octopus. A cork closure tops the package, which was designed for spirits brands.

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7. Johnnie Walker ‘smart bottle’ performs for consumers and supply chain

Diageo is making waves in beverage packaging with a prototype of an electronically tagged bottle for Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky that promises to not only enrich consumers’ experience of the top-shelf Scotch but also provide supply-chain tracking.

A thin, flexible near field communication (NFC) tag is attached to each bottle, enabling consumers to simply tap their NFC-enabled smartphone to the bottle’s back label to access product and brand information, such as cocktail recipes, promotional offers.

In addition, members of the supply chain can use a smartphone or NFC reader to check the tag on any bottle and determine whether its seal has been broken, which would indicate tampering.

The tags are made using Thinfilm’s OpenSense technology; they are applied to the bottles in such a way that the tag is torn if the bottle’s seal is broken.

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8. Light-weighted rum bottle boasts two firsts

Sailor Jerry, a premium spiced rum from William Grant & Sons, achieved two “firsts” for glass bottle manufacturer Ardagh Group, which results in a bottle that’s 20% lighter:

One, Ardagh was able to produce at its Scottish plant in Irvine a cork-mouthed bottle using its weight-saving “narrow neck press and blow” (NNPB) glass manufacturing process. The vendor explains that’s a relatively straightforward to produce using the “blow blow” process, but was as untested and far more challenging for an NNPB process.

Two, it’s the first time neck embossing has been applied by Ardagh for the UK spirits sector that underscores the brand equity of the custom bottle.

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9. Reclosable end boosts can convenience

The “Recloseable Easy-Open End” (REOE) from HeatGenie is a platform technology that can be customized to a variety of beverage and food cans…and reclosure is not its only benefit. The new REOE closure also offers consumer-friendly advantages with increased ease of opening and the elimination of sharp edges. The company says the REOE will be available at a competitive cost comparable to easy-open ends already in commercial use. 

Besides being a novel way to open and reclose metal cans, the REOE is customizable for different aperture shapes and sizes and is compatible with conventional filling operations.

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10. QR code lets loved ones create a Valentine ‘message on a bottle’

This Valentine’s Day, Tussock Jumper Wines made it easy to add a personal touch to gift bottles of wine. Using a proprietary mobile app and on-pack quick response (QR) coding, the gift giver was able to add a digital message to specially marked bottles. Messages could incorporate new or existing video or voice clips, music, photos, text, an email address or a phone number. The recipient then used the app to retrieve the personalized content from the same QR code on a hang tag.

About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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