Do Adventurous Labels Really Attract a New Consumer?

Picture this: Walking through the grocery store, a shopper pushes the cart into the wine section, but is overcome with analysis paralysis. 

With literally hundreds of bottles on the shelves, the process of choosing one or two wines from rows and rows of bottles you’ve never sampled can be daunting.

The label may be the first thing the consumer notices, but a unique label may not necessarily lead them to purchase your wine.

“A label is probably the second most important thing,” said Austin Hope, owner of Hope Family Wines in Paso Robles, California in an interview with Vintner Magazine. “The first is to make a high-quality wine that people are going to be pleased with.”

Hope has experience with unique labeling. His Austin Hope label — one of five brands Hope Family Wines produces — features original artwork produced by him, his wife, his daughters and an actual elephant wielding a paintbrush he met on a trip to Thailand.

The Austin Hope brand features wines with estate grapes grown on the property on which the Hope family resides. The labels tell stories (for instance, an elephant painting designs on a canvas during a trip to Thailand, or a muddy finger painting made by one of his daughters when she was a small child).

“We sell those wines directly to our wine club members mostly,” Hope said. “Labels like these represent stories that need to be told, but you’re not usually going to see them in a grocery store.”

While this writer first encountered Austin Hope while wandering through a Total Wine in Austin, Texas, Hope said there’s a reason you won’t normally see labels like that on a retail shelf.

“Most retailers actually don’t like them,” he said of artistically adventurous labels. “Most traditional retailers just want the very standard white label. They’re very safe, and I think consumers can be scared to jump off the boat.

“Think about brands like Joel Gott or Josh. Why are they successful? If you go to a store, you just see a wall of wine, but people recognize the brand and feel comfortable with them.”

Read more about the story of Austin Hope’s unique branding in the March/April 2021 issue of Vintner Magazine.

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