Unfortunately, brewing craft beer isn’t all about the quality. It’s often about how good you are at getting your product noticed. So, in a way, sometimes what get’s noticed is the loudest and shiniest, as opposed to the highest quality. Look no further than Big Beer. Brands like Bud Light and Coors own about 90% of the beer market (but that is dwindling fast.)

So how does craft beer battle in this type of stiff competition, when there are over 3,700 breweries, but they make up only 10% of the beer volume? Many are focusing on labels and marketing. For years I’ve watched the wine industry claw all over each other with crazier names and bolder labels. Craft beer is experiencing the same thing. That competition has even led to controversy and has, no doubt, been a deciding factor in some pretty questionable and tasteless labels.

The folks at Craft Brewing Business published the results of a pretty interesting study by Clemson University. They asked 193 shoppers to shop in their super market laboratory and they tracked their eye movements. The study was telling for the aesthetics of many of the breweries we have in Bellingham.

Highest Concentration of views is in redDuring the two-day study, 193 “shoppers” (109 female, 84 male) wore calibrated, eye tracking glasses while selecting products from a list. Participant eye movements were recorded to provide insight as to why individuals selected certain products.

More than 180 of the participants were craft beer buyers who had purchased craft beer in a store sometime during the past three months. Approximately 40 percent purchased craft beer at least weekly or every two weeks. Study participants ranged in age from under 21 to over 65, with 55 percent of respondents between 21 and 39.

During the quantitative study, participants viewed six Avery Dennison pressure sensitive labels — paper, matte film, white gloss film, metallic, wood veneer and clear printed. Each participant viewed one of the six Avery Dennison labels on the shelf with nine other bombers — 22-ounce bottles.

The study found that Gloss Film did perform the best

The study indicated the number of times a product was viewed positively correlated with purchase intent. Sixty-two percent of study participants said the Avery Dennison metalized film label caught their attention compared to labels made with paper, matte film, white gloss film, wood veneer and clear film. Forty-six percent of shoppers perceived the metalized film labeled product as most expensive, followed by wood veneer and clear film. Forty percent felt the paper label appeared the least expensive.

What was interesting was that after the participants shopped, they entered a debriefing area. They said they enjoyed the wood label the most, even though their eyes indicated that they metalized and clear labels. The 30 year old group fixated nearly twice as long as the other groups on the wood label. But wouldn’t we expect that? Just take a look at the breweries in Bellingham. The industrial, exposed wood look is an extremely popular look and the 30 – 40ish year old demographic definitely impacts that aesthetic choice.

Chart 2

Charts from White Paper

Charts from White Paper 7-31-15 CBB 4

Like it or not, packaging matters. The better you look, the more you’ll get noticed. Picking exactly what the definition of “better” is the important part and this study certainly helps you do that. So, what labels in Bellingham do you like the most and catch your eye and why?