Scotch and packaging

06 Dec 2016

On a recent cold and frosty morning in Edinburgh, packaging experts arrived from across Europe to attend the first Packaging News Live: Spirits Summit.  My colleague Pam and I were probably one of few participants who actually hailed from this city and only needed to hop onto a Lothian Bus to take us to the venue at the Assembly Rooms on George Street. 

As well as a full programme of speakers, the Summit also had an exhibitors' room which included our SWA stand.  Although, in contrast to other exhibitors, we didn't have an array of luxury spirits packaging to display, we attracted a constant stream of visitors to our stand wanting to hear more about our Association and how we help our members.  People were interested in browsing through our publications, such as our insightful economic report showing that Scotch Whisky contributes about £5 billion annually to the British economy, or our skills report on employment in the industry and our Scotch at a Glance factsheet. 

It was also pleasing that fellow exhibitors were keen to tell us about the 'sustainability journeys' their packaging companies are undertaking and how their products and services can assist the Scotch Whisky industry in delivering its Environmental Strategy. 

By the end of the day we had handed out lots of publications, debated and informed many attendees about Scotch Whisky.

The presentation programme for the summit didn't disappoint and was full of great speakers and interesting topics.  The speakers ranged from company representatives, including Diageo and Edrington, through to design agencies and packaging companies. I had a slot in the programme to speak about the Scotch Whisky Industry Environmental Strategy and its recent refresh. 

The speakers gave a great insight into their areas of expertise and the future of luxury packaging more broadly. Two of my key takeaways from the day were the forgotten power of beauty in brand design and the seven steps to a great packaging design, including the power of storytelling. 

A number of themes were common across the presentations, including the importance of millennials, rise of craft, consumers trading-up, reducing packaging sizes to encourage people to try new options and selling products at a more accessible price point. 

The audience was active on Twitter throughout the event and a number of phrases were focused on and retweeted, including mine:  'in France more Scotch Whisky is drunk in a month than Cognac in a year'!

Morag Garden is head of environment and sustainability at the SWA