Things to Consider when Choosing your Packaging

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Beverage Packaging
One of the most fun steps in creating your brand is picking your package. As marketing is a huge part of a successful business, your packaging is an excellent opportunity to make a good first impression.

Choosing packaging can be quite overwhelming once you start exploring the many options available in today’s marketplace. It is important to think all the way through your supply chain before making any purchases.

Let us break down the options for you and give you some food for thought to help you prepare for your discussion with your packaging specialist.

Packaging terminology
Primary vs Secondary: Packaging is frequently broken down into primary and secondary packaging.

  • Primary Packaging or “retail packaging” (in the beverage world) would be the vessel containing the beverage.  For this discussion, it would be the glass bottle, label, caps, and closures.  The function is to protect and preserve (and often inform the customer).
  • Secondary packaging serves to present branding and for logistical purposes.  This would be everything else involved with your final presentation (what you ship or see on the shelf).  The corrugated bottle case, shipper or carrier would be examples of secondary packaging.

Things to think about before you call your packaging provider:

What kind of product are you looking to bottle?

  • Is your wine or craft beverage still or sparkling? Does it ferment in the bottle?  Not every bottle is suited to every product.  Carbonation, pressurization, or pasteurization can affect the types of bottles that are safe to use with your beverage.

What shape/style bottle do you want?
The shape of the bottle often signifies the identity of that product and sometimes an entire brand. Wine bottle shape often offers a clue as to the origin or contents before you even read the label.  Will you follow the bottle shape conventions for the type of beverage you are making? Or do you want to break with tradition to create a totally different look.

Wine bottles come in many different conventional shapes/styles. The three most requested shapes/styles are Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Hock.

Shape conventions:

  • Bordeaux bottles have distinct shoulders and are perfect for red wines such as Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
  • Burgundy bottles are typically of similar height to the Bordeaux. However this style has a less pronounced shoulder. This bottle is often used for Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
  • Hock (Alsace) bottles are tall and slim with a long neck and very little shoulder.   This shape is associated with wines like Riesling.
  • There are many other glass bottle shapes that are associated with specific wines (port and Provence styles for example).
  • Belgian shaped bottles are popular with craft beverage and beer makers and reflect the history and processes of beermaking.
  • Spirits bottle shapes tend to be less defined (and more customized) and may imply a type of spirit or be designed for better grip (for mixing cocktails).

At Waterloo Container we stock all the frequently encountered shapes of wine, liquor, and craft bottles.  We are trained to help you pare down our vast selection to make the statement you want!

What size bottle do you need?
Single Serve or party perfect? Samples or shooters?  There are many different bottle sizes to choose from depending on how much of your product you want in each bottle.

  • Typical wine bottle sizing options include 187mL, 375mL, and 750mL. There are also larger format bottles that range from 1.5 liters to 9 liters. Beer and craft bottles are offered in capacities measured in ounces, milliliters, or liters.
  • State liquor laws and TTB rules can dictate distributable or sellable capacities within each beverage category. 

With our unrivaled inventory, Waterloo Container is sure to have the right size for you.

What color bottle do you want?
Colored glass comes from natural or chemical elements which are added to the raw material mixture during glass production.  Just as shape can indicate contents, there are color conventions as well – some result of history and some practical or functional in nature as colorization limits light exposure to prevent oxidation of contents.

Color Conventions:

  • Champagne Green- associated with sparkling beverages and Champagnes
  • Antique Green- Red Wines
  • Cobalt Blue- White Wines
  • Flint (Clear)- White wines, blush and fruit wines, beers, spirits
  • Amber- Sweeter white wines and craft beers
  • Transition glass is also sometimes available which is a combination of two different colors. This glass only becomes available when a glass maker switches colors during a production run resulting in a short time-period of “mixed” colorization.

We offer as many as 13 different stock colors (or color finishes) that are sure to help you stand out on the shelf!

If domestically made glass is important to you, we can focus our discussion on our vast selection of bottles made in the U.S.A.

How many bottles will you need?
While we take pride in our huge inventory and selection, we need your help to plan for your production. 

  • Some bottle styles and colors are manufactured more frequently than others.  This means more reliable and constant availability for you.  You do not want to have to switch bottles (change the look of your brand) if the supply of glass is less than the demand for your product!
  • We work with you to predict, plan and stock the bottles that you will need, while considering trends we are seeing and industry shortages.

How do you plan to close the bottle?
When looking to answer this question, you must look at both the finish of the bottle and then what closure you want. 

Finish: The bottle finish is an essential part of the bottle and was part of the mold during the glass making process. Finishes are standardized at an international level, though additional customizations by glass manufacturers is a growing trend allowing for further product differentiation.  The bottle finish will determine what your closure options may be.

Closure: The closure is the device that seals the bottle and keeps the contents inside the bottle.  All closures must fit properly to prevent leakage.  It is important to note that some of the closures may require special equipment to apply securely to the bottle.  One size does not fit all! 

The combination of closure and finish plays an important role in the preservation of your product. Special finish and closure combinations may be required when products create pressure, may vary in temperature during shipping or storage (expansion space), or require pasteurization.

  • There are many different options for your closure. The most popular ones are corks, bar tops, screw caps and crowns.
  • Closures can be made from natural (cork, wood, metals) or man-made materials.
  • Closures can also provide added functionality (think pour spouts or re-closeable screw caps). 

Waterloo Container stocks a huge assortment of closures made by industry leaders.  Consider closure color, design and embossing when you want to take your closures up a notch and enhance your presentation.

Packaging Tip:   Choose your capsule before your label – it is easier to color match graphics on a label to an existing capsule or cap than the other way around. 

What type of Label will you use?
One of the most common conversation starters we hear is “I am looking for something different”.  Everyone wants to be “different”, but ordinary stock bottles can save money and ensure future supply.  Therefore, sometimes it can be most cost effective to let the label speak for you instead!  In any case it is critical to consider how primary package choice influences your labeling material selection.   

A myriad of labeling choices exists, including:

  • Paper Labels
  • Decals
  • Direct Glass Printing
  • Shrink Sleeves
  • Etching

With all labeling options, Inks, coatings, textures, and special effects (holograms, foils, glow) can add to product differentiation.  However, these special effects can also quickly add to package cost.   

Direct printing (ours uses UV cured inks and up to 8 colors) and shrink sleeve label application both offer the benefit of 360 degrees of design space to maximize your label possibilities and marketing capability.  These techniques also create bottles that arrive ready-to-fill (meaning no additional labor cost, messy glues or labels ruined by spillage).  Sleeving offers all the same special effects available with paper labels and decals with the unique benefit of being able to turn an inexpensive plain bottle into an artful showstopper.

Packaging Tip:   Choose your bottle before your label
 – the primary package has a huge influence on the choice of labeling selection.  Uniquely shaped or tapered bottles may limit labeling choices and application methods.  Some glass bottles contain label panels which must be adhered to.

Packaging Tip:  Be sure to check TTB guidelines for labeling requirements specific to your product.  Requirements need to be incorporated into the label design and can eat up your label’s limited real estate.

 What is your Retail Price Point going to be?
A retail price point is what you plan on selling your product for once it hits the shelves. Determining this ahead of time helps you figure out what amount of money you are looking to spend on the primary and secondary packaging.

  • Every aspect of the package contributes to the overall cost.  From bottle to cap to outer box, your choices contribute to the bottom line.
  • Once you determine how much you want to spend, we can help you find bottles and closures that match your price point and help you get the margins you wish to receive.

Are you bottling something special?

  • Thinking of creating something extraordinary or wanting to offer your customers a specialty beverage?   Dazzle them with a unique or non-traditional bottle shape that catches the eye and can be offered at a higher price point.
  • There are certain bottles that were made specifically for dessert and ice wine. Ice wine bottles are typically tall and slender with a long neck while dessert wine bottles are shorter with wider shoulders.

What about the Secondary Packaging?
You have little control over how your product is presented in the marketplace, however you can do your best to influence it through great package design.  Make retailers want to put your package in the forefront.

  • Normally when bottles are bought, they get sent to you in plain white boxes. Waterloo Container gives you several different opportunities to brand and message with your box.
  • Printing a simple logo or text on a content box as it moves through a re-pack facility is a great way to keep your brand in the eyes of anyone in the tasting room.  Our Domino print service offers this basic customization service during any repack.
  • Adding graphics, photos or color to outer packaging helps you compete at the retail level. Grab shoppers’ attention with standard or litho print on boxes that arrive with your bottles inside.

Make it count!
To create a great looking package, you need to work together with your packaging provider to make the right packaging decisions for your products.  Being prepared for your conversation with a packaging specialist keeps you focused and results in a more fruitful exchange.

At Waterloo Container, we work hard to provide a great customer experience along with quality packaging products.   We provide the service, experience, and expertise to help you succeed!


Transparencies 2.0 Process, Shapes, Material Bruni Glass, Milan 2015

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