Live Harpers Editorial
Published: April 29, 2022
Santiago Navarro, CEO & founder of Packamama – the climate tech packaging provider spun from Garçon Wines – made his name in the creation and supply of eco-flat bottles which re-launched Accolade’s eco brand, Banrock Station, in the Co-op in 2020 Here, he dives into how wine brands and manufacturers can leverage packaging to capitalize on ecommerce, whilst responding to long-term changing consumer preferences, including sustainability.
Packaging should always be part of a product’s base strategy and not be treated as just an add-on. Therefore, if one is creating a wine product, the focus must not be on creating only the wine and the brand, and then by default assume that the existing, standard wine bottle must just be used. The contents must come first but the packaging has to be a close second. Both the contents and the packaging embody the brand, and this defines the product.
Wine bottles are a great packaging format to explain this further. The vast majority of wine gets packaged into round, glass bottles. This packaging format was developed in the 19th century using the available technologies of that bygone era. Nowadays, two centuries later, most wine still gets bottled into the same packaging. This does not sit well with me. In most areas, the vast majority of businesses and consumers strive to use the latest, accessible technologies. Few professionals – if any – are choosing to work on a typewriter or commute to their offices on a horse. So, why might they not be choosing the most recent packaging technologies for their product?
Packaging is key to success, and this is even more important in a climate crisis and with the growth in ecommerce, both highly specific to the 21st century. I believe that the most challenging period for humans and the wine industry in millennia requires the implementation of the best technologies to be as effective as possible. At Packamama, we believe in not only using the latest and best technologies, but to push these to their technical limits such that they unlock novel benefits. This is what we have done with our innovative flat-pack bottle designs, we have taken what was possible in PET packaging injection stretch blow molding (ISBM) and pushed this to a level where the common view was that it was not possible. The result is a beautiful bottle which has more than 40% of the entire surface area as flat panels. Flat packing changed the furniture industry and made Ikea a global success. We believe that flat bottles will change the wine industry and contribute to Packamama’s customers’ international success.
Wine producers must take pioneering initiative to support innovation in packaging. If they make it easy – or easier – for NPD, then brand owners and retailers will be in a better place to more readily trial innovations and to work out which ones work for their consumers and their business. Further, wine producers stand to be the ones who will be first and worst hit by the impacts of the climate crisis on the raw material inputs which they need to produce wine, and so they should also be the first and most serious to introduce and champion packaging that will slash carbon footprint.
Wine brand owners sit at the intersection between producers and retailers. They benefit from a position of influence and knowledge which can and should be used to trial packaging innovations. They are also the brand builders and so should best recognize how the packaging embodies the brand of the product.
As an example, wine producer and brand owner Château Galoupet recently introduced our Packamama eco-flat bottles for their latest rosé wine. MD Jessica Julmy said: “When we learned that 40% of a winery’s carbon footprint comes from packaging, we knew we needed to think carefully about our packaging proposition. Our ambition is to craft wines in the most sustainable way, and at every step, from the viticulture management right through to the packaging. Packamama’s eco-flat bottle is a perfect solution for Galoupet Nomade, the second wine in our portfolio – a fine wine from Provence that could be enjoyed by the sea or at a picnic. Whilst no packaging solution is completely perfect, the Galoupet Nomade bottle is made from a storied recycled PET and is 100% recyclable. This material makes the bottles ultra-light and shatterproof which, combined with their space-saving shape, makes them brilliant for direct-to-consumer purchases. ”
Furthermore, this is not just a matter for wine brands and producers, but one for wine retailers too. They have an essential part to play in markets where consumption far outstrips production, with the UK being a great example of this. In fact, in a market like the UK, then the retailers, and definitely the large ones, have significant influence as they are the gatekeepers to consumers. Therefore, they should also be looking to leverage packaging to ensure groceries are packaged in a way that is fit for the 21st century and this includes wine packaging, too.
When it comes to wine in the ecommerce channel, the status quo round, glass bottle is incredibly challenging, presenting high environmental costs across the supply chain and high financial costs, primarily when considering last-mile delivery. From needing excessive protective secondary packaging to the risk of supply failure from broken glass, the successful and convenient delivery of wine to the consumer in round, glass bottles are fraught with issues.
And yet, ecommerce presents a unique opportunity to engage with the target audience, over and above what is possible in a traditional physical store. There can be greater volume and variation in the type of information and brand messaging, such as inspirational imagery and informative videos. When wine is so complex, and in some instances intimidating for those starting to explore, online platforms present a unique opportunity to educate and entice. This makes it an exciting channel for wine to succeed in.
When it comes to online purchasing, it is hard to avoid the ‘Amazon generation’ expectation around ease of accessibility and immediacy of delivery. Packaging has an important role to play in meeting those demands. However, it is critical that sustainability plays a key part in the packaging decision process, if a brand owner truly wants to create products with longevity in mind. Consumers’ attitudes towards sustainability continue to become more prevalent. Recent research from Wine Intelligence found that between 56% and 67% of wine consumers across major wine markets had a high connection with sustainability in general. How this translates through to purchase is not a simple equation, with a variety of factors having influence. However, the consumer intent is there and those who are able to convert this intent to purchase, likely in part through ease of access and availability of products, will have an advantage over their competitors.
At Packamama, we exist to provide packaging that works in a 21st century world, striving to drive positive change and acceleration towards a low carbon future. Our eco-flat bottles combine functionality and sustainability with the well-recognized and loved aesthetics of a 750ml bottle format. They are also ecommerce optimized. Wine companies, producers, brands owners can then leverage our innovation to evolve their portfolio, remain relevant and capitalize on new opportunities.
Santiago Navarro will be speaking at the Ecommerce Forum on the Innovation and Design Stage at Packaging Innovations and Empack 2022. More information is available via the website or [email protected]