By Courtney Cochran
In news that may come as surprising to some – and perhaps not so much to others – market research firm ACNielsen recently revealed that almost one in five of the table wine brands to hit the market in the last three years features an animal on its label. This leap in popularity of so-called critter wines is remarkable not just because the wines represent a break from traditional wine labeling, but also because the animals featured on the labels often have little or nothing to do with what’s inside the bottle.
Dubbed non sequitur labels due to this disconnect between the label and what’s inside the bottle, critter wines benefit from customers’ association of the animals with themselves (e.g. pet owners often have an affinity for canine-themed labels). This flies in the face of traditional branding rationale, which argues that images should be strongly associated with the product – whether it be wine or anything else for that matter – being sold. But rather than perplexing, I find that this news confirms a suspicion I’ve long had that wine – made from a puzzlingly large number of grapes grown in regions all over the world and frequently marketed with labels in obscure languages – can sometimes seem about as relatable to American consumers as quantum physics. If at times it takes a critter label to break through all this clutter and strike a chord with the consumer, so be it.