How does it feel?

Furphy logo

Brands today are tapping into unique packaging to reach the masses one consumer at a time. But standing apart from the actual label itself, is the vessel it gets applied to and how it does feel. Bottle design is becoming more important as it allows a unique user experience, one that can be owned and trademarked by a brand.

Whether it be a bottle of perfume or a bottle of beer, the in-hand feel is vital. Tactility is an underused sensory element that draws shoppers in, often with visual cues first, and then grabs you with what may be the most personal of the all the senses – touch. Tactility in packaging today takes on many forms and performs many leading and supporting roles. It can take the form of a rubber-like grip surface that makes hard-to-open lids a breeze or heavy containers easy on the hands during transport. It can be a surface pattern on a can that refracts light and draws a shopper’s attention. It can be a subtle hint about a personal care product’s ability to soften your skin or a cosmetic product’s ability to highlight your eyes. Or, on a functional note, it can help those who are visually impaired ensure they are using the right product.

Tactility can be used by any number of printing and converting technologies: embossing, raised-letter inks (both traditional and now digital as well), laser-etching, molded patterns, specialty materials, and even tactile coatings. Once only afforded by high-end cosmetics, jewellery or expensive wines and spirits, the categories and package formats in which tactility is being exploited seems to have no limits today, and the digital world is making small runs, or even one-off samples a reality.

There are countless off-the-shelf products available but they don’t offer this unique user experience.

Below are a few examples of how braincells has leveraged tactility to great effect in the food & beverage industry:

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Back in 2005, while meeting with the founders of Little Creatures, we asked why you could buy a pint over a bar but you couldn’t buy a pint in a bottle? This sparked interest on both sides, and research confirmed that the only options very metric 330mL, 350mL, 375mL and 500mL beer bottles and of course the big 750mL King Brown, but no 568mL pint bottles. There were no bottle manufacturers in Australia willing to produce a custom pint bottle in the numbers required so this packaging innovation was designed by braincells and made in Malaysia. The in-hand feel was developed to feel like you were holding a pint at a pub. It soon became the take home alternative to the traditional, over the bar pint, but more importantly, this innovation allowed Little Creatures to become the only brewery in Australia that could sell a carton of pints!

THE Furphy 375mL Bottle
The brief was to produce a beer for Victoria, brewed in Geelong and made with Victorian ingredients, with good mainstream appeal that could potentially tap into the VB and Carlton Draught monopoly. It had to be unique, feel ‘blokey’ and a bit industrial – the complete opposite of all the tall, slim long neck bottles that have flooded the market. After countless hours of research by both braincells and the Lion Nathan team, which involved liquor store visits, purchasing and drinking a huge array of beers to find the bottles that had the best in-hand feel, it came down to two that felt right: Sierra Nevada’s Custom 355mL bottle and Anchor Steam Beer from San Francisco, also a 355mL offering.

Working with Lion Nathan and the team at Owens Illinois Glass we eventually came to a solution which was somewhat of a merge between the two bottles but fitted the desired 375mL Volume and had its own personality. After several tweaks the sample produced by Owens Illinois felt right in the hand and the rest is history.

It goes to show that packaging is not just about the label… and user experience is not just an online thing!