David Milliken's Brand Marketing Blog

Today There Are No Wrong Answers. Welcome to an Innovations Brainstorm

Posted in Innovations by dlmilli on January 13, 2010

Innovate or die” goes the famous saying. Since innovating suddenly sounds like a great idea, I recently led an afternoon of innovations brainstorming.

As we know from our packaging project, walking down the wine aisle is like swimming in a sea of sameness. The goal of today’s session was to identify concepts that would help us increase our appeal to consumer or retailer stakeholders.

The game plan:

  • Assemble diverse participants. One person each from the tasting room, wine making, event planning, production planning, and marketing. Members represented three countries of origin, both genders, and a wide age range.
  • Review benefits our target audiences would desire, for example, integrating more senses into the wine experience or reducing retailer waste.
  • As stimulation we had on hand about 100 grocery items that reflected those benefit areas. Who knew that cookies tasted better in 100 calorie bags?
  • We spent 40 minutes each ideating around each of the three pillars in our brand positioning.
  • Every idea was a good idea today (like a therapy session). Cost and feasibility do not matter until tomorrow.
  • Ideas could be small improvement (we should use soy ink) or game changers (let’s make a bottle that sings).

We identified hundreds of concepts. Our immediate next step is to determine the most interesting dozen ideas to develop further, building in cost and timing estimates, to present to winery management. After that, well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


Tis’ the Season (For Seasonal Packaging)

Posted in Packaging by dlmilli on December 28, 2009

A long, long time ago it was the middle of 2008. One of my many responsibilities then was 2009 brand planning for Blue Moon, a MillerCoors brand.

We wanted a big promotion to support the 2009 holiday season. Our creative brief:

  • Brand goal: Floor displays at retail. But we did not want to release a “me too” variety pack like many micro breweries do for the holidays.
  • Consumer mindset: Wine is the norm during the holidays. But beer lovers want to drink beer. If only a great tasting beer would come in wine packaging perfect for sharing.
  • Lunar phenomenon: New Year’s Eve 2009 happens to be a blue moon. Apparently my gift from Mother Nature arrived early.

The winning concept: Limited edition large bottles of Blue Moon, celebrating the “Blue Moon New Year’s Eve”, as an alternative to wine for the holidays. (Ironic, now that I work in wine!)

It was to my delight, when shopping for beverages last week, that I ran into a display for Blue Moon Grand Cru – objective achieved! Packaged in a wine sized 750 milliliter bottle (24.5 ounces), with promotional graphics and special finishes, this package looks great. Like upscale wines, a few bottles were offered in wood gift boxes.

My only disappointment is the decision to release a Grand Cru in place of the regular Blue Moon beer drinkers already love. With few consumers familiar with the term, most of the label’s prime real estate describes what a Grand Cru is. That leaves fewer words to communicate how this package satisfies the beer drinkers’ desire for a beer for the holidays. Nonetheless, a year and a half later, after seeing the Grand Cru packaging in several stores, it is clearly a success.

Whether your preference is beer, bubbles, bourbon, or iced tea, here’s to a happy and safe Blue Moon New Year’s Eve.