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“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. azorie

    azorie Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2006 Florida

    wow number 1 beer in the world has no label, go figure.....:wink:
  2. nc41

    nc41 Meyvn (1,454) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Pliny is as simple as it gets, and it's only cool because the beer is good. I understand the marketing aspects of great bottles, they create internist, like Zombie Dust, great bottle great beer. If ZD tasted like ass it wouldn't sell no matter what you put it in or how great the bottle is.
  3. andrewinski1

    andrewinski1 Savant (941) Apr 14, 2009 New Hampshire

    What about Shipyard's Pumpkinhead?
  4. fox227

    fox227 Initiate (0) Nov 19, 2010 California

    Port's labels are much more simplistic than their Lost Abbey line. Does this account for the price difference? If so, then it's primarily the uneducated buyers that buy based on labels alone.
  5. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    Well, it takes some getting into beers before you start appreciating what's in the bottle over the label. I prefer very sober and simple designs, so my favorite American labels are the Bruery ones, or at least most of them. They'd fit in any fine wine boutique.

    Then again, after getting into beers I started appreciating the contents more than the bottle. Struise bottles have gawdy and frankly awful label designs, but the beers are fantastic.

    [controversy]Whereas Dark Lord is as bad or even worse than its label[/controversy]
  6. JuicesFlowing

    JuicesFlowing Poo-Bah (1,981) Jul 5, 2009 Kansas

    I like this topic. I do sometimes judge a book by its cover. But this isn't really about a single beer, as it is the entire brewery. Once you have that one beer, you'll more than likely try more offerings or not, no matter what the label is.
  7. GRG1313

    GRG1313 Poo-Bah (3,472) Jan 15, 2009 California
    Supporter Beer Trader

    C'mon....lets not be naive....that bad-ass neck ring is simply a substitute for a cool and catchy label. The monks know exactly what they are doing and the bottle itself is marketing genius. We'd know that bottle in a dark room the same way we'd know a Coke bottle.

    Labels definitely sell beer, of that there is no question. Are we as beer geeks influenced? Well, some of us obviously yes (like me) and some no...like you other more grounded individuals. I like a cool label and I gravitate to it to look at the bottle, look at the descriptions and I probably go out of my way to at least try it. I admit it. Cool label . . .hopefully cool beer.

    I had the opportunity to attend a particular event 6 times a year at a local venue. A theater event. I'd eat at the same restaurant before each performance that I was to attend. I always ordered mussels in addition to whatever else I wanted and couldn't find a beer that I liked from the meager selection offered. This went on for almost two years.

    Well, I had passed frequently on Mardsous 8 at that point because the label was so boring. Suffice it to say I finally ordered it and fell in love! The pairing was fantastic and I still recommend it and make note that Mardsous 8 is one of the best beers on the planet....especially with food and most especially with mussels.

    Yeah, I concluded there and then that I was superficial in connection with labels and I try my hardest to not let the label influence me. But, really...can you resist trying to get a bottle of beer with Santa playing chess, or a bunch of cute little duckies swimming around, or a crowned Zombie with sparkley dust all over? I could go on and on. Labels count.
  8. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,140) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Great counter example to your own argument. :slight_smile:

    The neck ring originates from Westmalle, is used on their beers, and winds up at the Abbey because returnable bottles are still used in Belgium. However, collection points for empties don't sort bottles by neck ring. So finding Westvleteren in that bottle indicates the Monks have re-used a Westmalle bottle along with the other non-neck ring bottles they use (new or used). So by your argument, Westmalle, with all of their bottles having both the neck ring and a nice label should be more in demand than Westvleteren.
  9. misterid

    misterid Initiate (0) Apr 3, 2009 Wisconsin

    if it didn't, companies wouldn't sink money in to it :shrug:
    yemenmocha likes this.
  10. GoGators

    GoGators Crusader (737) Aug 5, 2010 New Jersey
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Not sure about everywhere else, but in many of the stores i frequent in NJ, the Lost Abbey beers are all marked down because they are sitting on the shelves and not selling. I guess the artwork is just not good enough. Or maybe it's the beer?
  11. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,140) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I suppose it is hard to accept because there were so many more people who didn't buy an Edsel than there were who did, and because so many millions of folks didn't buy New Coke.
  12. DanE

    DanE Disciple (328) Feb 24, 2012 Connecticut

    ^ This.

    But 100's of millions did world-wide. Marketing's sole purpose is to motivate purchase.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  13. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,140) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Then why was it discontinued and is no longer pushed? And why was the Edsel a big flop?

    The purpose may be to motivate, but it often fails to do so.
  14. DanE

    DanE Disciple (328) Feb 24, 2012 Connecticut

    My wife does not fit your description. :wink:
  15. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,140) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    A swallow does not a summer make. :-)
  16. MaxSpang

    MaxSpang Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2011 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    As a blanket statement, I would say that a good label (and good marketing in general) will sell more beers as long as the product is solid enough to back it up. Generally speaking. For the most part. Yadda yadda.

    It's not always true as it depends on the market, shelf location, clientele of the store, etc. For example, I think The Bruery and Jolly Pumpkin have some of the best labels out there, but they sit on the shelf for a long time around here. Even the limited Bruery stuff like Tart of Darkness will sit for awhile. On the flip side, breweries like Dark Horse (who have lackluster labels as much as I hate to say it) will sell out fairly quickly.

    Rest assured, marketing is extremely important. But marketing isn't just the design on the label.
  17. yemenmocha

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

    Your inductive reasoning is off. A few counterexamples don't disprove that it is very, every effective in general.

    Plus I love the soda pop examples because it was pathetic how many Coke drinkers failed the Pepsi challenge, for example, yet continued to be die-hard Coke drinkers. They're in love with the Coke image that has been created from marketing. It has little to do with taste.
  18. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,140) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    So how many counter examples do you require?

    And note that induction cuts both ways. Basing the argument for success on a few examples doesn't prove that it is very effective in general.

    I submit that the "success" cases only appear to be more frequent because the marketers have a vested interest (financial) in having us believe in their success and that many "failures" quietly disappear from sight. We also need a tally of cases where no marketing was used and there were successes and failures. Without data for all four cases any and all induction is subject to confirmation bias and no firm conclusions can be supported.
  19. starkmarvelo

    starkmarvelo Disciple (370) Jan 20, 2010 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I can't lie, I'm a sucker for a pretty label. Freetail Brewing has my favorite labels. And there beer is phenominal.
  20. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Crusader (755) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

  21. doulos31

    doulos31 Initiate (0) Apr 4, 2005 Delaware


    I mean, most of us will go into a beer store, and we will buy something that we have heard of...either a specific beer or a beer from a specific brewery or a beer of a particular style. In short, we are informed consumers. When you are informed, you are less influenced by marketing, obviously.

    But some people may have just been introduced to craft beer and they are just walking into a store and deciding to try something new. How else are these people going to make a decision? Of course the marketing matters. It's just like when we go into any store going to buy some specific product that WE have never bought before. We need to pick one out, but we have no idea which one to buy. We read labels and ultimately just make a decision based on what we see. That's just the way things work.
  22. philbe311

    philbe311 Poo-Bah (1,975) Jan 21, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Terrapin Pumpkinfest for me... I had been eager to try this one and it was about what I expected... Solid, but unspectacular...
  23. JuniperJesus

    JuniperJesus Aspirant (270) Feb 26, 2011 Illinois

    I almost bought this at $8.99 a six pack. I actually came to my senses while waiting in line.
    beerassociate likes this.
  24. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Labels sell the first time, taste sells repeat business.
  25. beerassociate

    beerassociate Initiate (0) Apr 21, 2011 New Jersey

    The package is crucial! It's what the consumer first sees and creates a first impression!
  26. lucasj82

    lucasj82 Zealot (595) Aug 13, 2009 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    To me I look at styles I am in the mood for not the label.

    I mean 3 Floyds beer labels look kind of cheesy to me but I buy that crap out of them.
  27. Skoallrebel

    Skoallrebel Initiate (0) Sep 6, 2012

    very important. the label is the first thing people see. If the label is crappy a lot of people might not try it
  28. Brunite

    Brunite Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2009 Illinois

    Of course labels sell beer. I bought this stuff buy the cases back in the day because of that gal.[​IMG]!!
  29. goodbeerallday

    goodbeerallday Initiate (0) Oct 29, 2011 Australia

    EPIC brewing from New Zealand has labels that definitely entice you too buy. great beer as well
  30. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Poo-Bah (3,458) May 19, 2005 Colorado

    I would say mostly wrong. While a good label will sell the first bottle to someone, it won't continue the sales...only the beer will.
    We've had Lost Abbey in the store and it doesn't sell as well as other beers that are as good or better. While a good is important, the artwork doesn't have to be...artistic. It just has to stand out as a brand. LA labels are too busy for the most part. No one will pay 13.99 for just a label.
    Wine is a good example of what he's talking about, though. Cute-sy labels will sell a bad wine.
  31. Brunite

    Brunite Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2009 Illinois

    Yep. Penguins and feet seem to work. Big displays up front last time I visited my shop.
  32. Onizilla

    Onizilla Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Am I the only one who finds it easier to explain certain purchases to the other half if the label is cute/charming/badass? I've had every Pretty Things beer I've been able to track down simply because the GF adores the art and doesn't say anything about prices. :confused:
  33. sullenbee

    sullenbee Initiate (0) Jan 15, 2010 Michigan

    As an artist, I can say that absolutely, yes, a label will entice me to try something. I'm drawn to things that are well crafted, in every aspect. I like to have cool looking things. However, that being said, I still collect one bottle from every beer I taste and enjoy. I have a whole wall of Short's beers, so it obviously hasn't kept me from loving breweries with terrible label art.

    Now, when I buy wine, something I know much less about, the label always affects my decision. (But I rarely drink wine, and I don't care as much to educate myself about what is inside the glass.) I probably wouldn't buy something that didn't have an interesting label, and I imagine those who know less about beer may be influenced in the same way.
  34. sullenbee

    sullenbee Initiate (0) Jan 15, 2010 Michigan


    Also, I don't normally drink Tequila but damn these make me want to start just so I can have the awesome bottles. I'm such a sucker for packaging that speaks to my inner goth.
    stayclean likes this.
  35. Retail1LO

    Retail1LO Initiate (0) May 4, 2011 Pennsylvania

    A good label, in my opinion, is more than enough to reel in someone who doesn't talk about beer incessantly like most of us do. However, the product still has to stand up to its exterior appearance to be worthy of future considerations. That said...just from reading reviews, discussions on this board, and through talking to other people....there are plenty of well packaged beers that I pass on because...well...I don't really give a fuck what the label looks like. I'm not spending primo loot on beer for anything but the enjoyment factor...and none of that comes from the label.
  36. Retail1LO

    Retail1LO Initiate (0) May 4, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Some of their labels are pretty sharp. Some are just...archaic. Love the Duck Duck Gooze label, in particular.
  37. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Crusader (736) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    It's 100% true - the label sells the product. Have you ever seen a Bud drinker buy a beer with a Coors or Miller label on the can or bottle?
  38. nc41

    nc41 Meyvn (1,454) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Love 3F bottles, and the beer is as good as their labels.
  39. MrOH

    MrOH Defender (642) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    Hence the complete overhaul Weyerbacher has done on labels, tap handles, font used, etc.
  40. BrownNut

    BrownNut Devotee (423) Jul 11, 2011 Florida

    Label absolutely matters in most shelf situations if for no other reason than visibility. I was at Total Wine today. They have a zillion beers that live on shelves from ground level up to eye level for a 6 foot guy. If you have a crappy label that doesn't pop, you're going to blend in to the background and get factored out. There was some beer about shin level today that was trying to go with some artsy background like one of the wallpaper options on your smartphone that you'd never use, and whatever font and font size and font color they were using in front of that background didn't stand out. Couldn't read it and it looked like a bad decision all around. I have no idea who made it or what it was and I didn't bother to look because there were probably 100 other beers to scan just in the set of shelves right in front of me and hundreds more to either side and probably a couple thousand in the four aisles of beer. Might be the best beer ever, but they lost because I couldn't read it from 4.5 feet away and I don't have all day. That's a visibility issue.

    The other issue is professionalism. Here in Florida there is some brewery called Cocoa Beach. Even when I see them on a chest level shelf, I bypass them because of their crap ass labels. It's not just bad, it's Microsoft Word bad. Wait, scratch that. Hoppin' Frog is Microsoft Word/Clip Art bad. This is Microsoft Works bad. Like 1995 Microsoft Works Because It Came Free With The Computer bad. Plus MS Paint. Seriously, MS Paint. Check it out. Even their website logo looks like 1995, like Your 1995 6th Grader Learning About JPEGS And Teaching Himself HTML On Geocities. When I see their labels I think of some lazy shoestring homebrewers whose stuff tastes like roasty wet dog. Given that even some smaller local breweries with decent branding have that taste, I'm not going to bother with these guys given how much other stuff there is to try, an endlessly refreshing spring of other stuff. I mean Comic Sans, seriously?

    The beer is what we care about. Branding doesn't matter. Art doesn't matter. Design doesn't matter. Fonts don't matter. Except that they do. These things create visibility and perception and they totally matter. Shouldn't. Do.
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