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Wine Vision News: Wine trade should experiment more with temporary products, says Absolut packaging boss

Published:  20 November, 2013

Wine businesses can be more creative with packaging and products, says one of the biggest names in the spirits world.

In a panel chaired by Wine Intelligence's chief executive Lulie Halstead at Tuesday's Wine Vision conference in London, Eric Naf, director of packaging development at the Absolut company said that while packaging is first and foremost functional, "the rest is emotional".

"Inside [the bottle] should of course match the outside - we must not be disappointing - the moment we are we will lose the magic."

Naf added that it was "surprising that there's still so little going on in wine businesses when it comes to experimenting and trial". He said spirits were more daring, but rejected the suggestion that it was solely due to bigger markets and marketing budgets to match. "Creativity and imagination are not solely to do with market size. There's an opportunity for everyone regardless of size, both from a packaging and communications perspective."

Absolut Flavours Range

For spirits, seasonal changes allow space for "a playground of temporary products". He said wines could do the same with "different varieties, blends and offerings". "It doesn't have to be wild and crazy, but it allows you to do something outside of the regular."

Ulf Sjodin, head of category management at Systembolaget said that Sweden only sells 38% of wine in glass bottles, with the majority in bag-in-boxes. He cautioned against frequent and radical packaging changes. "People tend not to know what their favourite wine is called, but they know what it looks like. I've seen a lot of good well-known brands that changed and lost 25% of their market share."

Bernard Fontannaz, chief executive of Origin Wine, said that while "content is primordial", how we dress ourselves "makes all the difference". He likened making changes in wine to the world of fashion - which has two collections per year but can make adjustments in between seasons.