They’ve been around for quite a long time, but all of a sudden flexible pouches are more popular than ever when it comes to alcoholic brands looking to connect with consumers.
Much of the attraction for these brands is the portability of the packaging format, allowing consumers to easily take their drinks with them to the beach or on the boat. The result is, for certain kinds of alcoholic beverages, especially drinks that can be served frozen, like margaritas, the pouch has quickly become a packaging format marketers can’t afford not to be playing in.
Craig Cordes, co-founder and CFO for the New Orleans-based Big Easy Blends, first introduced his product Cordina, a line of cocktails including margaritas and daiquiris, in the pouch back in 2009, one of the first alcoholic beverage brands to do so. Since then, he says, the shelves have become crowded with other brands in pouches that are making it an extra challenge to get his brand noticed. “When we first started the company we were 23 years old and we had this crazy idea while sitting on a beach to have frozen margaritas accessible anywhere, especially where glass is prohibited,” says Cordes. “So we thought hey, let’s try to make this come to life and put margaritas in a pouch. It was very tough at first. Distributors laughed at us. Consumers were very iffy on the quality of the product in a pouch. The packaging actually kind of discounted it because everybody was so used to drinking out of a can or a glass bottle.”
But by 2012, says Cordes, “everybody and their grandma decided to copy it.”
E. David Marinac, President, ABC Packaging Direct, a packaging solutions provider, has watched packaging alcohol and wine in flexible packaging continues to grow in popularity, “despite the major roadblock of established brands in their ubiquitous bottles in all their shapes and sizes. For years alcohol was just too aggressive for any sort of flexible package and within a short period of time would compromise the integrity of the film and even the seals themselves,” he explains. “Now, film combinations that include aluminum plus nylon along with a special liner low density polyethylene sealant layer have produced the best results we’ve ever seen. Let me be clear, this isn’t a “thickness” issue as much as it is laminating the right film structures.”
Marinac continues, “Finally, the spout and cap manufacturers have also come a long way in creating modified polyethylene fitments to dispense the product as well. We feel this segment of the flexible packaging industry is ripe for growth and innovation in the next year or two.”
In the case of Cordina, its innovative re-sealable pouch has won awards for functionality. Consumers can unscrew the top and drink right out of the pouch instead of having to squeeze or pour it into a glass. “Whereas with the other competition out there, once you open the package, you’re done,” Cordes says.
Neverthless, increasingly squeezed (no pun intended) by a crowded playing field of alcoholic beverages in pouches, Cordina recently underwent a redesign in an attempt to further differentiate itself. The solution was to take advantage and use the power of something the other brands can never imitate or copy, namely, New Orleans itself. The packaging designer, Michael Osborne Design in San Francisco, created a colorful and energetic illustration of the “Big Easy.” “There’s probably a price ceiling on things you can put in a pouch,” points out Dennis Whalen, the design firm’s Vice President. “A single barrel of Jack Daniel in a 750 pouch, it’s just not going to work. But for grab-and-go quick drinks like this, it’s phenomenal.”
Concludes Cordes, “Consumers have definitely accepted pouches. Now it’s about fending off the competition, and there’s lots of it.”