Unbottling Innovation: Sustainable Wine Packaging

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by KnowESG
KnowESG_Unbottling Innovation: Sustainable Wine Packaging
Image courtesy of University of South Australia

Imagine delighting your friends with a pour of wine from a cask or leisurely sipping your favourite red from an aluminium can.

While traditional glass bottles have long held favour among wine enthusiasts, believed to enhance the look and taste of wine, they may not be the most environmentally friendly choice.

The University of South Australia's Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science and the University of Adelaide's Business School delved into people's preferences for wine packaging, exploring how factors like price, brand, and messaging influence these choices. Lead researcher Jakob Mesidis notes that past research mainly focused on labels and closures, neglecting the packaging format.

Conventional glass bottles, while a staple for centuries contribute significantly to the wine industry's carbon emissions. Producing a single glass bottle emits 1.25kg of carbon dioxide, making up over two-thirds of the industry's total carbon output.

Australia offers alternative wine packaging like 'bag-in-box' (cask wine) and aluminium cans, with emerging options like flat plastic wine bottles. Despite being up to 51% more carbon-efficient than glass, consumers resist these environmentally friendly choices due to perceived associations with lower quality.

To understand how to encourage consumers to choose sustainable options, the researchers surveyed 1200 Australians. The results indicated that cask wine and flat plastic bottles were preferred over traditional glass, while cans were less favoured, tied closely to specific occasions like outdoor drinking.

Interestingly, the survey found that the package format played the most significant role in influencing choices, followed by price. Brand and eco-messaging's importance varied with age and the eco-friendly behaviours respondents claimed to engage in. Younger consumers were more likely to opt for alternative formats, especially when priced mid-to-low and associated with well-known, prestigious brands.

While canned wine is gaining popularity, it still represents a small portion of the market, and flat bottles are gradually gaining acceptance. The research suggests that larger, prestigious brands may find success with alternatively packaged wine, providing a foundation for wine marketers to navigate this evolving field. As Mesidis concludes, "Research in this space is still young, and there is exciting work to be done to better understand this burgeoning part of the wine industry."

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Source: University of South Australia

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