You’ve poured your heart and soul into crafting the perfect wine or spirit, and now it’s time to choose the perfect bottle and label to match. You’ve probably already considered the color, shape, style and size of your packaging — but which bottle supplier should you use?
Cost will be the deciding factor for most wineries and distilleries. Customers want high-quality products at a low price, and packaging seems like a natural place to reduce costs. But cheap packaging materials can come with hidden costs of their own.
Looking at the pros and cons of imported glass bottles
There are many benefits of choosing imported glass bottles for your wine or spirit product. They’re relatively inexpensive and lightweight, which saves on shipping costs.
But these are mass-produced products, meaning they’re made in haste for a quick profit. While imported glass bottles have a lower cost per unit, they’re made quickly with lower quality control standards. This means they tend to be weaker, easier to break and prone to defects. Generally speaking, cheaper bottles are more inconsistently formed and asymmetrical.
The hidden cost of sourcing cheap bottles from overseas
Because automatic bottling and label application equipment rely on uniformity of bottles to work properly, buying cheap bottles can cause costly problems when filling the bottles and applying your labels.
Higher filling costs
Your bottles will ultimately be run through a filling machine at high speeds. These machines will be set up to match your bottle specifications, and inconsistencies — even small ones — such as crooked necks, chips or indents can slow down the machine or stop production entirely.
And when people have to intervene to remove defective bottles to prevent bottle and machine breakage, both production time and waste go up. All of this ultimately increases your own per-bottle production costs.
Slow label application speeds and label failure
Many wineries and distilleries also use automatic label application equipment. Just as with auto-filling, flawed bottles can result in crooked, wrinkled or bubbled labels. And surface imperfections on the bottle like depressions and pronounced seams can also cause labels to fail.
Bottle consistency is also important when designing your label. Consider the taper of your bottle — the amount of taper on the neck of the bottle must be measured carefully and the label shape determined accordingly. Otherwise, it will not lie flat. If your bottles taper inconsistently — even slightly — the labels will not all adhere smoothly and bulging can occur along the edges.
Imported glass bottles are cheaper, and they do save you money on the initial cost of your bottle. But they increase bottle and label waste, and slow down production speeds. And because these suppliers are located overseas, shipping times can be unpredictable and customer service can be difficult to reach. This can be devastating to industries with a perishable product that needs to be packaged within a strict deadline.
Alternatives to imported glass bottles
High-quality, environmentally friendly bottles are an alternative to imported glass bottles. Glass is already 100% recyclable and lightweight bottles can save in the amount of glass used, production emissions and energy and shipping costs. While imported glass is also lightweight, it comes with a critical loss in quality.
Sustainability is also an important factor in the purchase decision for many consumers. An eco-friendly bottle can cut costs while increasing your customer base. In fact, three in four millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable products, according to Nielsen.
The final cost-benefit analysis is up to you, but we want to be sure you make well-informed packaging decisions. Your bottle is the first thing customers will see, and the look and feel of your packaging indicates the quality of the product within.
Do your research and talk to your supplier, bottler and label manufacturer. If you decide to use lower quality imported glass, be sure to inform your label supplier.
There are some steps that can be taken to reduce label application issues if we know about the risk ahead of time. We can use a heavier label material or a more aggressive adhesive. Keep in mind that these options may be more expensive — so make sure to weigh the increased labeling costs against the perceived savings of using lower quality imported glass.
Settled on a reliable bottle supplier? Improve your wine packaging by downloading a free guide for wine or spirits labels today. It’ll walk you through the mindset of today's busy and distracted shopper, outlining the steps you can take to increase your sales through better label packaging.