When a heritage brand embarks on a package redesign, it's not done without thought to the bottom line. Specifically, the challenge for brand managers is that it's nearly impossible for them to isolate the value of a package redesign in the overall success of a brand. Therefore, it's been hard for them to spend money on something that's been so difficult to measure – until now.
Seeing this as a problem, Nielsen developed a methodology and an accompanying award to recognize such efforts. The Nielsen Design Impact Award, which debuted earlier this year, went to forceMAJEURE for their package design work on Buchanan’s Blended Scotch Whisky based on increased global sales and the measurable business impact of outstanding package design.
“If you look at other marketing tools, like advertising, digital and social, they all have measurability,” says Steve Lamoureux, SVP of Product Innovation at Nielsen. “It’s very difficult to isolate the return on investment from packaging design. With our reach and access to data, Nielsen is positioned particularly well to solve this problem and evaluate the performance of design on an ongoing basis.”
How does Nielsen measure design impact? The 94-year old global research company operating in over 100 countries, weighs a variety of factors that include distribution, advertising, social media and more. One way they measured Buchanan's was by monitoring the UBC code data around the world, which rarely changes when a product is redesigned.
Buchanan's, a 133-year old whiskey brand owned by Diageo, wanted to think about their place in the market. Naturally, package re-design was an integral part of that discussion.
Buchanan's hadn't made any changes to their packaging design in 23 years. Now, they wanted to gain relevance among its target audience of a young, aspirational and increasingly discerning middle class. “Here’s a product that has a lot of loyalty among an aging consumer population. For millennials, this was their father’s whiskey,” adds Lamoureux. “That was the business case. It wasn't that the brand was necessarily in trouble, but that there was going to be a need to reach a new younger generation for the long term business health.”
forceMAJEURE was challenged with the creation new packaging, while still protecting the Key Brand Assets favored by older consumers with a lifelong affinity to the brand. "There is a constant balancing act when identifying and retaining key brand assets and creating something new," says forceMAJEURE CEO Laurent Hainaut. "We wanted to solve the problem of reaching younger consumers, but also have a vision for a product design that would last an entire generation. The new generation could now inherit and grow older with this new design."
Let's take a closer look. The bottle shape was inspired by a modern take on a flask. The colors of the bottles across the series were updated to appear fresher and brighter. Still, the label itself remains largely the same to preserve the brand’s original credentials.
How's it worked out so far? In the United States, the Buchanan’s brand experienced a 9% growth in dollar sales in the year after the redesign. The packaging efforts have fared extremely well in Buchanan’s other markets as well—including Mexico, Colombia and Central America—bringing the average value growth across markets to 20%.
Key markets had such confidence in the new design that they increased advertising & promotion budgets and focused all activity on promoting the new design, creating a virtuous circle of growth that was sparked by the initial packaging redesign.