With Russia’s beer market shrinking, it has become ever more important for manufacturers to stand out among the competition. Packaging will remain a crucial tool for brewers to get their products noticed by effectively tapping into the most important consumption drivers – primarily the consumer desire for escapism and fun.
Events in July 2011 had an outsized impact on the Russian beer industry, with the new state law recognising the beverage as an alcoholic drink and placing limitations on the products’ advertisement, distribution and consumption. Economic and political instability in the country has also added to consumer uncertainty, hurting the beer market further. As a result, brewers need to be increasingly creative with their packaging designs, to both protect their share, and to try to win consumers back to the category.
Wine-like packaging conveys the premium nature of beer
Packaging will remain a vital differentiation tool, with beer manufacturers coming up with novel packaging designs in order to win consumers back to the category. Innovation will include glass bottles mimicking the packaging of adjacent categories, such as champagne.
The desire for a beer to accompany rest and relaxation moments motivated 20% of beer consumption in 2016 in Russia. To tap into this need, manufacturers need to come up with a packaging aspect that conveys the special nature of beer offerings, such as using a premium matte glass or a closure mimicking corks. This is to build a ritual that signals the start of ‘me-time’ for the consumer.
For example, this edition of the Russian Imperial Stout clearly targets special occasions and can be marketed as competing with sparkling wines. While this product is a gift edition, it is one example of how packaging can help shape the consumption occasion to make it more special. This premium upscale positioning, amplified by the relevant brand story, is the right way to enhance one’s moments of escapism.
Nostalgia-inspired packaging to accompany moments of escapism
Another example of beer packaging that taps into consumer desire for a comfort beverage is a packaging design that explicitly reconnects consumers with fun times they have had in the past. This capitalises on nostalgic feelings and consumers’ interest in recreating those moments. For example, Heineken’s Baikal Shore’s packaging capitalises on the popular recreational activities of camping, hiking, and boating, which are often accompanied by a beer afterwards. Launched in Eastern Siberia, the beer will strike a chord with Russian consumers who are likely to have spent time on a lake when they were younger.
Unusual designs will help new brands cut through the noise
Consumers’ desire for a fun or novel experience motivated 15% of beer consumption in Russia. To tap into this need, beer brands, especially ones new to the market, need to come up with quirky label designs to get consumer attention. An example of such packaging is Mazai craft beer from Bochkari brewery. In promotional materials released by the manufacturer, the beer is accompanied by a mug with a metal handle. While it is unclear whether the brand has also launched the mug, this shows how unique glass designs can help the brand image stand out and create a unique experience for consumers.
Another example of eye-catching design is a beer from the city of Nizhniy Novgorod, where Heineken rolled out a limited edition of the local brand Okskoe. The beer’s can design is inspired by a local art painting technique. The launch was a part of a limited-edition series that also referenced historical militia and a popular hockey club. While the launch used elements of the local culture, the main feature of this design is its unusual bright patterns that will ensure the beverage is noticed.
High-tech will provide beer drinkers with new experiences
A final example of how packaging innovation will create unique consumption occasions for consumers, Miller launched its ‘Change the Music of the Future’ project in Russia, targeting consumers who like beer and electronic music. Using technology, consumers are able to contribute to an interrupted music track, generated by an algorithm. To add their input to the composition, beer consumers scan the chip of the non-alcoholic Miller bottle. This directs them to the website where the track is playing, and where they will be asked to take a snapshot of their face. The system will analyse their appearance, and alter the musical composition based on parameters such as age, gender and emotional state. The project aims to create an endless track, with an unlimited number of participants, providing a completely new experience for consumers.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019