Food and drink manufacturers are continually finding more and more innovative ways of packaging their products, and glass manufacturers like Beatson Clark are no different. Glass containers have been around for thousands of years but our designers are always coming up with new ideas to help products stand out and catch the eye of discerning consumers.
Producers nowadays have many different packaging options to choose from: it’s not uncommon to see drinks marketed in foil pouches, cardboard cartons or PET plastic as well as in glass, for example. Competition is increasing all the time, but glass remains the number one choice for brands that wish to convey luxury and quality through their packaging.
Crystal ball gazing is never an exact science but we can certainly identify some trends in glass bottles and jars which we expect to continue this year and into 2014.
Commissioning bespoke designs for bottles and jars is one way in which manufacturers can reinforce their brand identity and help consumers to recognise their products on the supermarket shelf. Some products are instantly identifiable from the shape of their container – think of the iconic shape of the Gaviscon bottle, for example – and a good, unique design can really help products to stand out.
Many manufacturers who previously used a number of different designs in their ranges are now consolidating down to one or two designs or sizes, and they’re often looking to replace multiple containers with one bespoke product. Not only can a unique and well researched design make the product more recognisable, it also makes the whole packaging process more efficient as the same caps, labels and filling lines can be used.
Over the past few years there has also been a huge increase in the number of specialist food producers who are increasing market share by offering something different from the large multinationals.
This growing ‘cottage industry’ of niche producers, who often start out making jams, sauces or chutneys on their kitchen table, is becoming a force to be reckoned with on supermarket shelves. Consumers like the appeal of products which seems authentic or ‘home-made’ and they are reassured by the use of quality, traceable ingredients and traditional manufacturing methods.
These niche food and beverage producers are all looking for packaging which says something about the quality and integrity of their brand, but which also enables them to stand out from the crowd. At Beatson Clark we have designed bespoke bottles and jars for a number of high-end, independent food brands including Atkins & Potts, Cottage Delight and Little’s Coffee.
In recent years there’s also been an explosion in the number of small craft breweries in the UK and we expect to see continued growth in the bottled beers sector. While UK beer sales overall are falling, sales of cask and bottled beer produced by small breweries is on the increase, and there are now more breweries in Britain than at any time since the Second World War.
If it’s not consumed in the pub, craft beer is almost always packaged in glass bottles, as glass reinforces the reputation for quality that British beer enjoys. With around 2,300 different bottled beers from small brewers on the market, it’s no wonder that brewers are thinking more carefully about their branding and the bottles they choose for their beers.
Many small breweries now aspire to market their beers in a bespoke designed beer bottle which will allow them to differentiate their brand from the others in this crowded marketplace. Unfortunately, bespoke designs are not an option for very small brewers; at Beatson Clark we can generally run a quantity of approximately 500,000 units, depending on bottle size, for a completely new design. However, there are other ways in which brewers and other food and beverage manufacturers can source a unique bottle for their product without going to the expense of a new bespoke design.
Standard bottles like the ones in our general sale range can be customised by having the brewery’s name or logo embossed onto the finish moulds, which is more cost-effective than investing in a fully bespoke design and which allows the glass supplier to produce in smaller volumes. Beatson Clark’s minimum order for embossing finish moulds is from approximately 150,000 units, when run at the same time as the plain version of the container.
Glass also offers a nostalgic appeal, which is lacking in other packaging materials such as plastic. Surveys show time and time again that consumers love glass bottles and jars and that glass packaging elicits an emotional response from consumers. One example of how nostalgia can help build a brand is Purity Soft Drinks, whose Mason’s range of traditional carbonated drinks still comes in glass bottles delivered to the door. Beatson Clark designed a bespoke returnable bottle for the range which features the Purity name beautifully embossed onto the standard bottle design through bespoke finish moulds – a solution which combines flexibility with value for money and which is ideal for small volumes.
Bespoke finish moulds are also a great way of producing bottles for special promotions, collectors’ items or limited editions. The Share a Coke campaign, which replaced the word ‘Coke’ on the plastic bottle with 150 of the UK’s most popular boys’ and girls’ names, has been a great success, and one which could be replicated in glass using embossed finish moulds. At Beatson Clark we can offer up to 16 different embossments in one production run using a different embossment on each mould.
Predicting future trends is never easy, but one thing’s for sure: glass packaging has a long and distinguished pedigree, but we know that we have to continually innovate in order to stay ahead of our competitors in the packaging sector.