You may not know Kevin Shaw personally, but you will know what he does – even if you don’t realise it. He and his team at Stranger & Stranger have designed some of the most iconic and influential wine and spirit bottles and label designs across the world’s biggest supermarket shelves and the hippest back bars in the world. Shaw also likes to disrupt, to shake things up, to borrow ideas from history, culture, music and the arts and use them to create something new that can stop people in their tracks and force them to pick up his latest bottle and label design. Here he throws down the gauntlet to the wine industry to look at a completely different category for inspiration and to help drive innovation and ideas – yes perfume. It is, as he explains, his Eureka moment for wine.
We might all be in lockdown but that does not stop Stranger & Stranger’s Kevin Shaw from keep on thinking about where next for wine.
Eureka!!! I’ve got it. The answer to the UK wine market problem. The big idea. Oh, it’s big, it’s absolutely huge.
Let me show you how I got there. Let me show you my workings out.
Everyone is drinking at home and trading down, right? I heard that. Everyone! Everyone? Everyone is a lot of people. What about the people who were down there already, can they trade down any further? I thought I’d find out how low you can go these days. No cheating though, had to be a full bottle, had to be over 11%. It didn’t take long, you can pick up a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon from Total Wine for $2.47.
The US pricing structure is a little different because the government doesn’t shake you down with duty but, still, that’s pretty cheap. In the UK I scoured all the outlets and found a shaken down Tesco Tempranillo for the princely sum of £4.15 of your British pennies.
Oh, the labels I had to look at, they looked like they’d been designed in XL. It’s terrible down there, please don’t make me go back, I feel so dirty it feels like it’ll never wash off and when I close my eyes all I can see is clipart. The horror, the horror. Lidl was by far the best and that’s a sentence I never thought I’d say out loud. Gave me an idea though, but that’s for another day.
When we started designing labels in the UK 25 years ago the magic number was £4.99. There’s clearly been a race to the bottom and now everyone is digging, the retailers are all in on it and they are not going to help. It’s up to us to drag ourselves out of the rut.
Moment of inspiration
Here’s where the big idea comes in.
It was inspiring during the recent troubles to see the liquor industry completely swivel into a hand sanitiser model. They threw some aloe vera into the uncut spirit and boom, hand sanitiser. Wasn’t just liquor either, Brewdog got in on it. The world is, all of a sudden, awash with hand sanitiser. Inspiring swivel, right? And those enterprising market traders who cleared the stuff from the stores in order to sell on eBay for a huge markup, you sinister hustlers you, have taken a bath. Presumably in hand sanitiser.
Anyway, as swivel is such a now word, I wondered what the wine market could swivel into. Then it hit me.
We’re designing perfume, another came in just the other day, and you know what? It’s easy. Fancy name, fancy label, fancy bottle. Just like booze. Easy. Well, do you know that the juice inside that Tesco Tempranillo bottle and the average $50 perfume bottle costs exactly the same. Pennies. In fact the cost of bulk perfume ingredients is getting even lower.
The smell of Michael Bublé, ‘By Invitation’, costs 29 bucks an ounce. AN OUNCE!! And no one, invited or not, has ever sat down after a hard day’s work and said ‘hmmm, I fancy a nice smell of Michael Bublé’.
The wine market is worth $61 billion and the perfume market is worth $31 billion. We could literally swivel half our production, they are both about blending and noses and silly adjectives, and take out the entire perfume industry. They’d never see it coming. We’d just undercut them! We are so good at gondola end promotions, better than anyone, they wouldn’t stand a chance. With just a couple of BOGOFs we could take out all the Kardashians and at least one Jenner and restore some karma to the world.
Just imagine a family owned, sustainably farmed, hand blended perfume on a gondola end for £9.99. You could even do all that generic blurb on the back about it going well with white fish if it’ll make you feel better. Sure, you’d have to spend more on packaging, but look at the money you’d save on shipping and duty, everyone is going home happy. Well, not the Kardashians but where’s the harm in that? It’s a billion dollar idea, you’re welcome.
Please, pretty please with sugar on top, let’s all get together and rid the world of the smell of One Direction’s Our Moment Eau de Parfum and Bruce Willis’ Personal Collection Eau de Parfum. I can’t even…one is teenage hormones and the other smells of armpit hair and cordite?
Plus, I wouldn’t have to design in XL using clipart.