Several months ago, I met the founder of this slightly crazy project which features canned wine. Cédric Segal directs the company Fabulous Brand, which dared to launch a canned wine called 'Wine Star'. I tasted this canned Château de L'ille wine from Corbières at the SIAL food innovation exhibition in Paris, obviously served to me in a glass. What are we to make of this?
Although the wine isn't inherently horrid, it is evident that it lacks an identity and personality. Unsurprisingly, and to be perfectly honest here, the selected wine had to be designed to attract a literally uninitiated clientele. The target group is hence the young consumer with a strong beer and mixed beverage preference. In order to make such clients receptive, the wine had to be simple, accessible, and very demonstrative, in order to capture the attention of the mass audience representing these neo-consumers.
The wine itself offers a lush and smooth texture and is slightly aromatic, featuring aromas of blackberry jam and spices. The center palate is soft and appears to be lightly sweetened, with soft and coated tannins. The finish is obviously brief as it lacks substance, depth or vibrancy. The wine has this desire to shine, to impress; it is showy yet remains greatly manipulated, with zero sincerity, and is simply vulgar.
As the wine is canned, we have the right to question the overall ecological impact. Do cans actually have greater ecological footprints than glass bottles? According to Cédric Segal, the cans that he uses are biodegradable... And what about curbing the typical metallic taste of cans? In his opinion, once again, the special interior lining has allowed them to solve this problem... So it seems as though they have thought about everything after all.
So, What's the Problem?
An undignified and cold image of wine, prices that are less attractive; these are some of the problems associated with a can as packaging...
It would be enlightening to have a comparative sampling of the same wine served from the bottle and the can. I doubt that it would be easy to identify the wine that had been enclosed in this provocative packaging. So, finally, where does the problem lie?
A Pricepoint Unavoidably Less Attractive Than the Bottle
To start off with: the price! Basically, the price of a bottle of Château de L'ille from Corbières costs around €5.50, including VAT. A can of 25cl is sold at €2.50 including VAT, hence €7.50 including VAT for 75cl (the equivalent of a bottle), and therefore €2 or 33% more expensive than the bottle, if my math is right.
An Undignified and Repelling Image for Wine
Of course, the limiting factor lies in the image the packaging communicates. When tasted blindly, the difference between the can and the bottle is hard to detect. However, the taster's opinion will undoubtedly and radically change once the can is presented.
In reality, the can communicates an undignified image of its content which is rather associated with energy drinks, over-sweetened sodas, or lousy beers. It therefore seems impossible to imagine a successful canning of wine in France, especially in light of the fact that within numerous appellations, the declaration states that the wine must be bottled on the estate. In short, no prestigious appellation will allow any of its wines to be placed within such packaging, which could furthermore threaten the appellation as a whole.
The Challenges of the screw cap...
In people’s minds, wine should always be served out of a bottle. Considering the difficulty the screw cap has had over the past 20 years in carving out a place for itself on the French market, you can just imagine it being a nearly impossible challenge for the new packaging to overcome! Yet, nothing is set in stone and no man is a prophet in his own country; therefore, the can may well penetrate markets of other countries... Nevertheless, even if the idea is very provocative, it does at least emphasize the sacrifice this company has been willing to make, albeit after seemingly clashing with a lot of people.
Undeniably a Successful Marketing Effect
In the meantime, the communication and marketing campaign is a success. The proof: everybody is talking about it on social networks and in the media, so this is quite a victory on this level. My opinion on the subject has even been requested for Sud Radio and the Nouvel Observateur and can be read here.