The wines we label as ‘The Society’s’ are not only your best-loved bottles. They are those that our buyers spend most time sourcing, and often blending, with our producers, to get them just right. We never rest on our laurels, because every wine in this range has to earn, and keep its place, both in terms of quality and value for money.
Over the years, as the wine world has evolved and quality improved, The Society’s range has been extended to incorporate new wines and vineyards we feel should be better known. It currently includes more than 90 products from over 17 countries, offering a comprehensive overview of the principal styles, grapes and regions of the wine producing world.
We’re especially proud that members consistently put their faith in this range, but while we regularly monitor the individual wines within it to make sure they are on point, something we have been keen to do for some time is to step back and review it as a whole. We’ve spent the past two years doing exactly that, and over the coming months we’ll be sharing with members the results of this major project. We start here with a sneak preview of our new-look labels and the work that went into them.
What did we do?
Far more than a mere cosmetic exercise, we also asked ourselves if The Society's wines were the right ones at the right prices – and what might be missing? This is a crucial issue for a collection that has grown largely organically, and we felt it important to re-establish the proposition for our Society labels, and how they fit in with the wider range.
An equally important aim was having a more holistic approach to our packaging with the goal of reducing and eliminating what we deem to be needless excess packaging. This formed part of the written redesign brief and will continue to be a priority for us.
As well as our plan to ensure all our own-label bottles are the ideal weight (an important part of our sustainability strategy), we tasked ourselves with reviewing every aspect of the packaging from foils to paper, cardboard to closures. But our first priority was to canvass members’ views about the range in its current form.
Your thoughts on the existing range
We initially carried out research with a random sample of 473 members who told us why they buy or don’t buy Society-label wines, what they expect from them and their opinions on the look of the labels. In terms of the wines themselves, members who bought them were overwhelmingly positive, telling us they value:
- Consistent quality: ‘We’ve never had a bad bottle…’
- Reliability: ‘…you know what you’re getting and you can depend on it.’
- Outstanding value: ‘I’ve had wines that cost two, three times this and I have to be honest… poured them down the sink! Whereas [those] I’ve had from The Wine Society…. I haven’t had a bad one yet.’
- True examples of their type: ‘If you want to try something you pick that wine… it is [a] good example of that grape or region and not expensive.’
- Trust: ‘I’m happy to browse within this range if you introduce something new. I wouldn't even hesitate. Really good quality haven’t wasted anything by trying it.
Listening to members
From our initial research we were able to approach the label design with a clear brief that would incorporate those aspects that members told us were most important.
You told us that a more consistent look would mean:
- You would browse the range with more confidence
- You would feel happier about giving Society wines as a gift and to take to friends for sharing
- Greater consistency with the hierarchy and type of information on the back labels. It was clear you were, quite rightly, keen to know more about how our wines are likely to taste!
Your views on the new designs
Once we had briefed our design team, we carried out further research, inviting a group of 200 members to give their views via an online survey then focus groups.
Evolution not revolution
The winning designs have drawn on the existing look of some of our more classic labels, keeping colours to a minimum but giving the label a fresher, more contemporary feel.
When will we see the new-look wines?
The brand-new designs will begin to appear over the coming months. The Society’s Claret – our top-selling wine is already here and as you can see, has a new wine note explaining the thinking behind the illustration on the label and no longer has a capsule. As the new labels come on stream, we’ll update the wine notes with this information.
The exercise is not something to be taken lightly, with ongoing supply issues, particularly of dry goods like paper and cardboard and closures in certain areas. We couldn’t support the dropping of existing label stocks wholesale either, as this would have been environmentally irresponsible.
We are delighted to finally have had the chance to give our core wine range the tender loving care it so deserves. While some members were quick to tell us during the research that they didn’t mind what the bottles looked like and that it was the wine inside that mattered, we believe that the outside should reflect the quality within!