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Safeway has occasion-based wine category all wrapped up

A new line of wines targeted at specific buying occasions stand out on Safeway’s store shelves, with their ‘exquisitely designed’ full-body paper wraps.
FILED IN:  Package design  > Strategy
A first-of-its-kind wrapped bottle is the vehicle for a new line of wines from Healdsburg, CA-based winemaker Truett-Hurst for retail grocer Safeway that revolves around occasion-based purchasing. The 22 SKUs in the Evocative Wrapped Bottle line each link to a specific buying occasion, using inventive variety names and “exquisitely designed wraps that tell a story, present a recipe, or celebrate a special occasion,” says Truett-Hurst CEO Phil Hurst.

“I’ve thought for a long time that there’s a real opportunity to engage wine consumers on their own terms,” Hurst explains. “We offer them products based on provenance and variety, yet they are buying wine for occasions. Consumers want a wine for fish, a wine for a barbecue, and a wine that makes a hit at a dinner party. Instead, they’re offered 6,000 indistinguishable and unmemorable Pinot Noir brands from various parts of California.”

According to Hurst, Safeway launched the brand to fortify its lead in the wine category against competitors and to “make it cool to shop Safeway for wine again.”

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The Evocative Wrapped Bottle line includes varieties such as Curious Beast, a California red wine blend, targeted at occasions such as Halloween and Day of the Dead; Fuchsia, in California rosé and white wine blends, for the “Girls Gone Summer” consumer; and Candell’s Russian River Valley sparkling wine Brut Rosé, for anniversaries and birthdays.

Distinguishing themselves on Safeway’s store shelves, the nine varieties introduced so far are wrapped from base to neck in a tear- and moisture-resistant patent-pending material from a proprietary U.S. supplier. Constructed of a film layer between two sheets of paper, the wrap is said to perform like a fully synthetic paper, but prints like a traditional pulp-based paper. The wraps are four color-printed by WCP Solutions using envelope converting technology and are manually applied to 750-mL bottles, sourced from a variety of suppliers. The wrap is 100% FSC-certified and can be disposed of via single-stream recycling.

Taking full advantage of the billboard opportunities presented by the full-body wrap, package designer Kevin Shaw of Stranger & Stranger designed eye-catching, colorful graphics for each wine that speak to the specific intended occasions and offer opportunities for engagement “in a way that a tiny black label cannot,” says Hurst. Under the wrap, the bottle is decorated with a complementary primary pressure-sensitive label.

In September, Safeway began a national rollout of the first nine SKUs in the Evocative Wrapped Bottle line. Another eight SKUs will be released in spring 2013, for a total production of 100,000 cases in the first year. Wines are priced from $11.99 to $29.99; a champagne offering retails for $49.99.

According to Hurst, sales of the line are already far ahead of expectations. “We are actually reproducing the first round already,” he says. In the U.S., Safeway will be the only retailer to carry the line, but Hurst says his winery is pursing opportunities in other countries to launch similar products.

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