“You can have the best beer, but a label is what sells the product,”

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by sandiego67, Jul 20, 2012.

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  1. sandiego67

    sandiego67 Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2008 California

    PatrickCT and Greywulfken like this.
  2. El_Zilcho

    El_Zilcho Initiate (70) May 3, 2012 Virginia

    One of the coolest labels Ive seen is Williamsburg Alewerks Red Marker Ale, just reminds me of good times, but Ive only drank the beer once...
    On the other hand, Pliny is a pretty basic label, and that doesnt seem to hurt that beer's popularity.
  3. davey101

    davey101 Meyvn (1,080) Apr 14, 2009 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    Westveleteren thinks other wise. Granted they're not in the brew game to maximize profits
  4. GoGators

    GoGators Crusader (750) Aug 5, 2010 New Jersey
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Not surprising an artist would say something like this. Do you think the Lost Abbey brewer would agree with him? And while a good label might sell a beer once, nobody is going back to a bad beer because it has a cool label. And a great beer will sell with no label at all.
  5. SittingOnAMtnTop

    SittingOnAMtnTop Initiate (0) Nov 3, 2009 North Carolina

    When I first started getting into craft beer I would overlook certain beers because of their label.

    Now, a good label will catch my attention but I will not pass over a beer just because the label isn't interesting/appealing.

    I think when I started getting into Belgians I stopped caring about labels.
  6. mdomask

    mdomask Aspirant (274) May 27, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Not if no one tastes it.

    Covers sell books and magazines. Boxes sell toys and software. Labels and tap handles sell beer.

    Taste sells when you can get immediate feedback, like a bar or brewery. Labels sell when you can't get immediate feedback, like most retail outlets. (Small bottle shops can sell on taste, either through tastings or knowledgeable staff, but those are few and far between.)

    Of course, this only applies if someone doesn't know what to buy. Brand loyalty accounts for lots of sales. BMC bets on brand loyalty and wins big every time.
    Ace_of_Suds, Dweedlebug and Errto like this.
  7. jivex5k

    jivex5k Initiate (0) Apr 13, 2011 Florida

    Rochefort is incredibly simple too.
    The font they use is admittedly badass though.

    There is some legitimacy to the label directly correlating with sales. Word of mouth overrides that when people realize how good something is.
  8. knightlypint

    knightlypint Initiate (0) Apr 18, 2012 New Jersey

    Brings to mind putting lipstick on a pig.
  9. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Whatever happened to "you can't judge a book by its cover". Labels are a part of advertising and marketing. If you allow youself to be influenced by what others do to persuade you to buy a product based simply on advertising and marketing, so be it. Of course, it is difficult to make yourself immune to all types of advertising and marketing since everybody has a soft spot [even Superman] but you need to take a step back and look at the advertising/marketing stimuli objectively.
    PaulsBrew and beertunes like this.
  10. JdoubleA

    JdoubleA Disciple (307) Apr 27, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I can see what he's saying.

    I can think of one brewery in particular who has a far greater presence, retail wise, than other similar-sized folks who make a far superior product and who have also been around longer.

    Their company name is good, the labels are nice, beers have sorta cool "earthy" names, and their logo is honestly one of the best IMO, but their beers aren't anything special. Also too, at festivals they seem to absolutely kill it selling t-shirts, especially the $25 girl tees. (I know I've bought two!)

    They aren't relying on word of mouth, they are relying on "Cool label, I'll try that instead of this...".

    Which is totally fine. People who pick up a beer because of the label are more likely to like that beer than some super complex beer with a crappy label.

    And, I have heard from different brewers discussing not only labeling, but how straight it's put on, whether it's marked up, whether it's peeling, etc... as a reflection of either the care you can expect in the beer, or that it could be that they are just swamped filling orders, which in turn may also affect the beer.
    TheRealDBCooper likes this.
  11. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Meyvn (1,417) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    hey person being quoted, explain how Weyerbacher sells anything. I avoided buying Double Simcoe because the label looks worse than something I did high and drunk after Taco Bell and before a dump.
  12. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Marketing works.

    Many people are suckers.

    Why are these truths so hard to accept?
    LuskusDelph, DaverCS, pjvie and 17 others like this.
  13. HopsJunkiedotcom

    HopsJunkiedotcom Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2010 Florida

    Yeah, they obviously put more time into the beer than the labels and I'm okay with that. Double Simcoe didn't cross these lips until after I realized that I love simcoe(thank homebrewing for that one).
  14. montman

    montman Disciple (390) Mar 10, 2009 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    Pretty simple, people that reguarly post on a site like BA are generally looking a bit deeper, and are likely to be more informed, so from some of our frames of reference this might sound silly. But I'd think randoms wandering into a beer store simply looking for something non-BMC are more likely to be affected by a label.
  15. sandiego67

    sandiego67 Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2008 California

    Absolutely. The Swedish Bikini team and Spuds Mckenzie sold more beer in their short lived careers than most craft breweries will hope to sell in 20 years.
    Melomanemusher and dennis3951 like this.
  16. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    A label will perhaps sell one bottle or two. After the bottles have been opened the customer knows what he's bought.
    LuskusDelph, tronester and 5thOhio like this.
  17. drgarage

    drgarage Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2008 California

    The number of bottles from Haandbryggieriet I have purchased disagrees with this assessment. I also think that, other than the Veritas line, that Lost Abbey's labels are hideous -- and they hit a new low with the most recent Box Set label.


    Don't get me wrong -- I would give a lot to get to try it. I would just cover up the label so no one else could see it.
    afrokaze likes this.
  18. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Funny that this is coming from Lost Abbey. They wouldn't be high up on my list of well designed, eye-catching bottles.
    dbol likes this.
  19. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Meyvn (1,417) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    problem is that I dont like Somcoe by itself in a hoppy beer. So I didnt like it, although I did like Victory Headwaters Pale which had the tell tale Simcoe awfulness but enough of the other notes to pull it through.
  20. antilite

    antilite Initiate (158) Jan 1, 2012 Florida

    The only thing that gets my attention on a label is the date code. Sometimes the artwork demands a second look, but after the liquid is safely in the glass. Honestly, I care about the taste, first and foremost.
    darkstar67 and VncentLIFE like this.
  21. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (849) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Honestly I don't know if I've ever made a conscious beer choice based on the label. Now if the label has some vital info that I like to look at (description of the beer or the style, ABV info, etc) that may help my decision making. But the art itself is of no importance to me.
    DrDaves49 likes this.
  22. cbeer88

    cbeer88 Crusader (719) Sep 5, 2007 Massachusetts

    There's a lot of truth to this for your more casual craft fans (i.e. not the people on BA). It's pretty overwhelming to go to a store with 1000 labels and even know where to begin for these people. So, naturally, the better looking bottles are going to catch people's eyes.

    I do also agree that a company that cares about their presentation also tends to care about everything else they do. The opposite is certainly not true (i.e. many great breweries don't much care about their presentation), but I can't think of any craft brewer with above-average presentation and terrible beer.
    Derranged likes this.
  23. Danielbt

    Danielbt Initiate (0) May 4, 2012 Texas

    You don't need to. Your unconscious mind may have done it for you.

    Of course, everyone here is completely immune to normal human psychology and things like advertising have no effect on us advanced superhumans.
  24. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Meyvn (1,417) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    and I havent seen a date on Weyerbacher. -1 for them. I just wish their stuff didnt taste so good, so I could rip that apart. But damn some of their stuff is just damn good.
  25. sarcastro

    sarcastro Disciple (335) Sep 20, 2006 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    This is the answer. BAers have a hard time comprehending that beers sells to people other than people on BA. More than likely the bulk of the beers at most stores is sold to non-BAers. Eye catching labels help get the foot in the door for beers in a saturated market place. A good label may sell enough of a not so great beer across all the beer outlets to keep a place in business. People often wonder how not so great breweries/brewpubs stay in business. It is marketing. Brewing is a small part of the actual business.
    lambpasty and boddhitree like this.
  26. mattsander

    mattsander Zealot (558) Feb 3, 2010 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    I've always found Stone Brewing's 'anti multimillion-dollar ad campaign' stance pretty ironic. Few breweries seem to spend as much time and effort on their label designs and marketing.
    beertunes and rrryanc like this.
  27. Vaison

    Vaison Initiate (0) Aug 27, 2010 Delaware
    Beer Trader

    Being completely over-hyped on beer forum websites sell beers. doh
  28. hopsputin

    hopsputin Meyvn (1,114) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey

    Agree. I believe that there are A LOT of people who go to buy beer without having much knowledge of whats inside the bottle. Peoples attention is easily grabbed by flash.

    For BA folk, it is obviously not the case though. Look at something like PtE or like Rochefort 10, we love them and don't care what the label looks like.

    knowledge is power
  29. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    The thing about outward packaging is it's one of the brewery's first opportunities to communicate to the consumer. A good label will imply something about the product inside. Old/Older Viscosity come to mind, playing to the used motor-oil simile so common with imperial stouts - you can reasonably guess that what you'll be drinking will be thick and, well, viscous and it delivers. It's not so much a matter of putting lipstick on a pig, but rather getting that perfect sear on a steak - you've (hopefully) already got some awesome grass-fed Prime (or beer), but really nailing the details can add that much more to it - it shows you care about the entirety of the outcome.

    Cbeer88 is dead on - Have I walked away from beers based on the labels? Less-so now, but when I was first getting into craft I turned down Lagunitas for a long time. Now their one of my favorite breweries and I love reading the border text on the bottles.

    Should the label ever be the deciding factor? No.
    Will people walk away from a beer because of bad design? Yes.
    Does the aesthetic of a product matter? Most definitely.
  30. HopsJunkiedotcom

    HopsJunkiedotcom Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2010 Florida

    I know a few people that don't like it, say it has a characteristic of cat piss. I do, however, think you're in the minority on that one, and I will respectfully drink your allocation of simcoe beers. You're welcome.
  31. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (849) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Yeah I think that's what I was trying to imply without saying it outright. But then to look back at the labels on the beers Ive bought and try to figure out some kind of "reasoning" behind my choices seems daunting. So I guess my new point is, if it's a subconscious decision, how to you know it was a decision at all?
  32. FatBoyGotSwagger

    FatBoyGotSwagger Meyvn (1,016) Apr 4, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I find that the art is only half the label the other half that is often left out is information about what style of beer, the best by/bottled on and maybe some other relevant info. I get frustrated when there isn't quality info about a beer I may not know about and looking to possibly purchase a bottle on more than a whim because I've never had it. And I am too lazy to look at what rating score every beer I drink gets online.
  33. coreyfmcdonald

    coreyfmcdonald Savant (953) Nov 13, 2008 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, I'd have to imagine that I'm in the minority in saying I can't remember the last time I bought a beer and didn't look it up on BA. I picture myself picking out wine and for a casual wine drinker like myself what else is there to go off of than style, price, and label?
  34. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Advertising is often an attempt to fix the name of a product in your brain. When faced with a choice many people go for a name they've heard of.This works both ways-if an advertisement speaks to me as if I'm a child or have an IQ level to that of a cabbage or a leek then I make a point of NOT buying the product .Wickes, you've been warned :slight_smile:
    I have frequently bought bottles for friends by looking at labels-an interesting name or nice image makes a good way of choosing a gift.I rarely drink bottled beer, most drinking is in the pub and there's always a free sample on offer before choosing.
  35. mdomask

    mdomask Aspirant (274) May 27, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    If hyped beers only sold to people on BA, there'd be plenty of almost every release to go around.

    A lot of stores now have some kind of "build you own 6-pack" option. They're pushed as a way to try a lot of beers without committing to trying 4/6 of each. Some of these racks have well over 100 bottles on them. Which ones do people choose?

    Beer is business. Business is branding. Branding is marketing. Marketing is cool looking labels. QED
  36. Danielbt

    Danielbt Initiate (0) May 4, 2012 Texas

    If the advertising is done well, you don't. Manipulating the human psyche in ways that are beneficial to the advertiser is what advertising is about.

    This is true sometimes, sure. Advertising also attempts to create a distinction for its product vs. its competitors, in whatever way it can. Certain domestic brewers bottling in crappy green bottles springs to mind.

    This is a good example of poor advertising. Obvious attempts at manipulation cause a backlash from people who recognize them...which, unfortunately, doesn't happen often enough.
  37. imbrue001

    imbrue001 Aspirant (213) Aug 6, 2010 Pennsylvania

    Instead of having deep booger thoughts about how much a label affects sales/perception of quality/etc.. how about just make a nice label? It ain't like its hard. Have no design skill? Hire someone who does.
  38. OneBeertoRTA

    OneBeertoRTA Devotee (490) Jan 2, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Can't blame a guy for trying to preserve his job. Let's face it, the craft beer world are those who don't buy into marketing and force feeding. Sure a nice label or name may catch the eye of someone early in the transition but it doesn't keep them coming back.
  39. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Meyvn (1,126) Mar 1, 2009 California

    A label can create interest in a product or curiosity...but at the end of the day it's the product itself that matters.
    JuicesFlowing, drtth and 5thOhio like this.
  40. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Ironic? Have you ever read an Arrogant Bastard label? Do you think that's textbook marketing? Far from it when you call your potential customers not worthy.
    Pahn likes this.
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