Unpacking the Top Craft Food & Beverage Articles from Q1 2018

Let’s start with this: 65% of consumers have tried something new because of the packaging.*

As we continue to focus on branding and design for craft food & beverages, we’ve been doing our due diligence to stay up on trends we’re seeing in this space. Thankfully, there is a lot of compelling material being produced right now about the importance of branding, design and packaging when it comes to consumer goods.

Your product might be incredible, but if your brand expression, through all facets of physical and digital design, falls flat and fails to create an emotional connection then, as you’ll see below, the data says you’ll lose.

Here are 7 articles from the first quarter of 2018 we found compelling enough to gather and share with you.


Fred Hart takes a closer look at how natural brands can use design to stand out from their competitors.

“Design is the powerful storytelling tool that transcends simply WHAT these products are and shifts the focus to the emotional aspect of these brands, their WHY.”

“Design, however, can counteract misconceptions of me-too offerings and their interchangeability by augmenting other meaningful brand tenants. A brand’s mission, the founders’ vision and story, or a product’s origin can be used to create a true value-add. These assets, leveraged correctly, help companies separate from the pack, creating distance between themselves and their competition.”



Craft beer was a $26 billion industry in 2017 alone, seeing 8% dollar sales growth from the year prior. While industry sales are starting to reflect that of a more mature market, the Brewers Association said craft beer accounts for more than 23% of the $111.4 billion U.S. beer Market.
This article goes on to look at the following 4 points:

  • A shared consumer – “The consumer is seeking premium product created with care and integrity by nice people who are passionate about food”

  • A taste for craft – In an effort to expand their appeal to more consumers without losing their acclaimed authenticity, craft food, beverage, and beer brands are joining forces to make the most of their innovation efforts.

  • Tapping into beer’s retail success – A recent Nielsen survey found that 71% of craft beer drinkers say they buy beer to complement their food. To fulfill this unsurprising need, some craft food brands are positioning their packaged products as pairings with consumers’ favorite brews.

  • Will the keg ever kick? – “Even if there is a slowdown or flattening in the industry, consumers will never go back,” she said. “They don’t want industrial beer, and it’s to the point that even big companies have raised their bars. Consumers want the overall quality and standards of craft.


  • “The fact of the matter is there are so many options nowadays for consumers so they just forgot about us when we stopped communicating.” -Sarah Johnson, Brand Manager

  • “It’s important that you speak to your core consumer, you don’t step away from that, you celebrate the fact you got some nostalgia with the brand…but at the same time you need to educate new consumers as they move into new different life stages.”

  • Banquet, which Connolly said had “packaging that looked like it was from the 80’s,” was refreshed, and a new premium “mega” tier for people with big appetites, especially popular among the millennial crowd, was added…The strategy paid off – Banquet sales jumped 6% from the prior year.



There are a number of reasons why a brewery (or any consumer packaged good) decides to refresh or redesign their brand. Over time, perhaps the market evolved, and the brand gradually became less relevant. Perhaps the company has made major changes, and the existing branding no longer reflects the values or vision of the company. A rebrand could be considered as companies expand into new markets with unfamiliar audiences. And then there’s competing on increasingly crowded shelves. For Highland Brewing, there were all factors in their decision to rebrand their brewery after 23 years.



Effective branding and packaging is not just about creating immediate visual impact anymore — consumers are more informed about their needs and how a chosen product can meet them. The quality of a brand and its trustworthiness is a major factor compelling people to buy and sustain a long-term relationship with a company. Product packaging does need to initially engage interest as a part of a cohesive branding strategy, however, it needs to clearly inform target audiences of your place in the industry and why your product is special. People favor transparency so that they can quickly decide whether a product or a brand is right for them and support them without concern.



Amanda Bowman looks at the following 5 reasons why visual identity & design matters.

  • Design Sells: A study by MeadWestvaco revealed that packaging drives 36% of purchase decisions, “more so than TV ads, online reviews, and recommendations from friends.”

  • Strong Design = Trust: You can only have one chance to make a first impression, and using a professional designer helps you make it as effective as possible. Investing wisely is key to sustaining and growing your business, and design is no exception.

  • Packaging Design Alters Product Perception: The reality that seemingly small changes can have a huge effect on the perception of a product is a key reason why investing in good packaging is so important. Packaging should at least answer ‘The 3 W’s:’What is it?
    What does it do?
    What’s the value?

  • Designing Packaging that Makes an Impact: Do your research. Make it an experience. Make it personalized.
    Before you start, spend time really getting to know your demographic and your target audience. Find out what values and ideas are important to them, and investigate ways of reflecting those in your design. Your packaging (the physical design of the packaging) and package graphics (the graphics design on the packaging) should also be tightly bound to your brand, so market research and other brand investigations will be just as valuable here as they were when you created your logo.

  • Use Packaging to Educate: Call out the key benefits right on the front of the package, so customers don’t need to dig for the information on the back panel. Not only does this create transparency and increase trust for your product, it can be a great way to differentiate your product on the shelves.



In their research, Nielsen has found that optimized package designs generate an average 5.5% lift in forecasted revenue. In this article, they outlined 5 practices to help brands consistently launch package designs that deliver positive in-market outcomes.

  1. Invest in Design: The average cost for a single 30-second commercial on primetime broadcast TV is around $112,000 with an estimated reach of 1% of category users (in their living room) while the average cost of a package redesign is $102,000 with a reach of 100% of category buyers at the shelf, and it will last years, not seconds.

  2. Create an Informed Brief: It’s essential to understand your current design performance on a variety of dimensions. Is it grabbing attention quickly? Does it reflect your brand personality and effectively convey key messages? Which elements are working well, and which aren’t?

  3. Explore a Wide Range of Design Directions (and keep in mind your agency is the expert): The idea is simple: brands that refuse to consider something outside the ordinary should never expect extraordinary results.

  4. Outsmart Your Own Biases: Subjective decision-making was cited as a top complaint by more than half of consumer-packaged goods. The fact is that taking your “best guess” about which design direction will win at the shelf is a serious gamble, and something as important as packaging shouldn’t be left to chance.

  5. Listen to Your Design Experts and Consumers: To work more productively with their agencies, marketers can do a better job of providing objectives, not directives, as well as soliciting their agency’s perspective at various point in the process.

According to Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Category Shopping Fundamentals study, only 29% of consumers know which brand they intend to buy before they enter a store. The remaining 71% of consumers are making their decisions as they peruse the options on the shelf.


For a bonus, here are a few videos and additional resources we found helpful:


Grab your free download of our ’20 Stats That Will Impact the Way You Think About Branding for Brews’ PDF.

Thanks for reading! We welcome any feedback or follow-up questions. Feel free to email Seth at seth@wonderwild.co.


About WonderWild

We are a brand identity + design studio who help brands level-up through emotionally compelling design.

Want to talk about your brand? I'd love to hear if we can help you create meaningful differentiation: seth@wonderwild.co.

Seth Rexilius