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Marketing,Wine

Bag-in-a-Box, aka Casks ~ Innovation or Tom Foolery?

Innovative ways to present products are fascinating. I’m widely open to most new-fan-dangled things. So, when the latest wine casks hit the marketing in 3-Liter size, I considered the science behind the concept, and immediately bought into it.

Why? It’s air that destroys (oxidizes) wine. If wine is placed in a plastic bag where air can’t enter, then why isn’t this a great new way to present wine to the public?

I was delight to read that Bag-in-a-Box was recently put to the test in a story that appeared in The Wall Street Journal, as written by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher. Dorohy and John are also authors of “Love by the Glass, Tasting Notes From a Marriage.”
Their curiosity was piqued, and they did something about it. Frankly, they devoted their lives to it for a six week period, jamming their refrigerator full of boxed wine. (They deserve some kind of a medal for this one!)

Their story entitled, “Boxed Wines Face the Six-Week Challenge,” sub-titled: Boxes Battle For Young Drinkers; Letting the Air Out, was published on Friday, June 15, 2007, if you missed it.

You can find the entire article here, Wall Street Journal. [Please note that this is subscription, only, when you search on past articles.]

It began with, “We were surprised to see an ad for wine ‘casks’ during this year’s Oscars. Boxed wines and the Academy Awards don’t seem like a natural match, even in a year in which ‘Borat’ was nominated. It turned out that the ads were just the beginning of an aggressive, $4.5 million television campaign by the makers of FishEye wine. Among their claims: that the wine stays fresh in its bag-in-box for six weeks. To us, that sounded like a challenge. Having slowly filled our refrigerator with partially emptied boxes of wines over the past month and a half, we’re happy to say we survived the experiment and we’re back with a full report.”

I couldn’t wait to see if their findings mirrored my own theory, because now the work was done… conclusive for others to see. Wham, bam, wine casks, Ma’am!

Dorothy and John did the unthinkable. They loaded up their refrigerator with three FishEye wines in casks, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Shiraz (yes, even the Shiraz went into the frig). They had been introduced to FishEye in regular bottles at Harris Teeter grocery stores, and at the time they weren’t impressed. But seeing this wine being advertised during the Oscars got them moving in another direction for discovery, and they reached out to Laurie Jones at The Wine Group. Laurie assured them that sales are strong. “The Wine Group is expecting to sell about a million nine-liter cases of FishEye this year, including both boxes and bottles. ‘Everyday wine drinkers are using this as their house wine,’ she said. ‘It used to be a big magnum of Mondavi in the refrigerator door.’ Indeed, according to ACNielsen, sales of premium three-liter box wines, including brands such as Hardys, FishEye and Black Box, rose 43.4% by volume for the 52-week period ending April 7.”

Over the next six weeks, Dorothy and John opened one box of Shiraz every Friday and poured out about one-sixth of all of them that were open. “Soon, our refrigerators were groaning under the weight of boxed wines.”

They experienced “A Pleasant Surprise.” It’s worth reading all their details, because what they did scientifically proves the theory. FishEye wines held up, and in many cases were more enjoyable for them after they’d been open for a few weeks (go figure). What they learned varied from each variety, but their bottom line was that this new innovation works, and although you might not want to drag out the box during an intimate dinner party, it serves you well as your “in the frig” house wine or as a fun pour during large gatherings… Sorta like wine’s answer to the kegger parties, but with a twist of wine as we fire up those summer grills and get ready for our beach parties.

You can contact Dorothy and John at www.wine@wsj.com.

In an article printed by Business Week, July 11, 2005, “A Box Of Wine, A Loaf Of Bread…Better wines are getting bagged, boxed, and canned. Can vintners win over consumers?” Kate Murhpy wrote, “To find out whether the kind of container makes a difference, BusinessWeek MHP conducted an informal blind taste test. Of eight drinkers, five preferred the wine from the bag-in-box, one preferred the same wine from the bottle, and two couldn’t tell the difference. Two tasters also couldn’t tell whether identical wines were aseptically packaged or bottled. But the others preferred glass to aseptic. No one had a strong preference for either the can or bottle versions of the sparkling wine. Our conclusion: The idea of wine in something other than a bottle may be harder to swallow than the wine itself.” I think, almost two years later, we’re adapting quite nicely. Here’s the link to that story: Business Week’s story on casks

One Response to “Bag-in-a-Box, aka Casks ~ Innovation or Tom Foolery?”

  1. jo says:

    “That’s exactly how innovation works. Someone firsts asks the question

  2. Brian says:

    “What’s next