In 2014, the craft beer market made up roughly 19% of the entire beer market (in terms of revenue), with sales topping $19.6 billion from a staggering 22 million barrels sold.
With numbers like this, it comes as no surprise that so many entrepreneurs are considering entering the craft beer market. It’s huge.
However, entering the craft beer market isn’t something that should be taken lightly – you need to do more than your fair share of research, as it’s extremely competitive (there are over 4,000 breweries in the U.S. alone).
What’s more, many craft beer entrepreneurs get bogged down with creating the perfect product, which often leads to them neglecting many other important things, such as bottle label design.
It might seem like an exaggeration, but your bottle label can quite easily make or break your business.
So, I decided to put together this simple three-step guide to get you started on the right path when it comes to craft beer bottle labelling:
Table of Contents
The First Step: Researching the Market
Although researching the market in a business sense (e.g. pricing, distribution, production costs, etc.) might seem like a relatively obvious thing to do for anyone entering the craft beer market, it’s also important to research your market in terms of bottle labelling.
For most consumers, the first “touch point” they’re likely to have with your brand is in their local supermarket/ale shop, which means that most of them will be making their purchasing decisions based on the bottle labelling alone.
With so many beers on display at most of these stores, it’s important that your beer stands out from the sea of competitors on the shelf.
Researching your competitors is the only way to ensure that your bottle label does this.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Visit your local ale shop/supermarket (basically, wherever you plan to retail your beer)
- Take (high resolution) photos of the beer shelves
It’s then a case of analysing the photos for trends in terms of:
For example, you may notice that a lot of craft beers (i.e. your competitors) have labels of a particular colour or labels printed on a certain material (e.g. wood veneer).
If your bottle label doesn’t buck the trend, the chances are that it won’t stand out from the crowd, and sales will be low, so make sure to note down any “trends to avoid” and pass them on to your designer.
The Second Step: Picking a Label Material
While aspects like typography/colour/style make a big difference to your “shelf appeal”, the material on which your label is printed is just as important.
There are a lot of options available for bottle labels, including:
- Wood veneer labels
- Clear adhesive labels
- Paper labels
The process for the second step is much the same as the first: analyse the photos you took and find common trends in terms of the materials used, then avoid these when it comes to designing your label.
For example, you may find that most craft beers use a simple paper label – in this case, it may help you stand out from the competition to use a clear adhesive label (or another alternative).
The Third (and Final) Step: Legalities
Craft beer bottle labelling requirements are fairly strict, and if you fail to meet these legal requirements, it doesn’t matter how well-designed your label happens to be, you’ll make zero sales.
This is because no store will legally be able to sell your beer.
Legally, your bottle label has to showcase certain pieces of information, such as:
- Contents information (e.g. net volume in millilitres)
- Class designation (e.g. “stout”)
There are also things you simply cannot legally put on your beer label, such as:
- Coats of arms
Failure to understand the legal requirements for bottle labelling can lead to an expensive disaster, so it pays to read up on it.
How to Design the Perfect Craft Beer Label (Infographic)
If you’re looking for more detail on everything mentioned above, check out this infographic from FastLabels – a UK-based bottle label printing company.
It contains some invaluable bottle label research from a leading University, too.
Here it is: