According to Molson Coors, consumer preferences in beer are shifting away from heavy glass packaging to lighter aluminium cans and PET bottle formats and not only because of its convenience and light-weight, but certainly also due to the growing sustainability requirements of the modern consumer in regard to packaging.
This sounds contradictory as glass packaging is supposed to be one of the most sustainable packaging materials. But sustainable packaging is considered on the basis of metrics including: greenhouse gas emissions (tonnes of CO2e per unit of production), distance to transport, recycle content and recovery value. In the light of these elements aluminium beverage cans and the modern PET-bottle can compete nicely with the glass bottle or jar.
As example, Molson Coors claims that all its bottles and cans include recycled materials, sometimes up to 75%. And we also can see the movement to alternatives for glass beer bottles in the growing market of craft beer.
Speaking about craft beer, in an article in The Drinks Report, Mary Lewis argues that craft beer is no longer a sideshow. It dominates the sector. And she puts the question forward “How do the large brewers respond?” After all, these established beer brands have long prided themselves on dominance, and scale.
With seeing year after year declining sales volumes, some large brewers start to rail against the injustice, pointing out that in fact their beer tastes as good as the new, ‘authentic’ beers.
And Mary Lewis has a nice story about that:
Two salespeople from Victoria Bitter (VB), Australia’s only billion-dollar beer brand, entered VB for the Surry Hills Craft Beer Festival. Renaming it Vaucluse Bitter, they presented it as a craft beer from a small microbrewery. Apparently they even grew their beards out for the event. The beer took top prize. The salesmen made their point, but won few friends….
As one of the largest beer brewers in the world, nobody claims that Heineken is a craft beer. And still the brand isn’t in decline as so many others. A tentative conclusion is that the brewer must have a very creative promotion team, as it sees fit to constantly attract the market with (often interactive) novelties.
Let’s have a look at some Heineken interactive creations and to end this article we go to Brouwerij Martens NV, in Bocholt/Belgium which has created the utmost in interactivity with beer bottles.
But first the Heineken creations.
The “Amsterdam Originals series” and “The Heineken Experience”
Heineken is Amsterdam and Amsterdam is Heineken. The two are connected and intertwined with each other already for centuries. As a matter of fact Gerard Adriaan Heineken was directly involved in the construction of the world famous Rijksmuseum.
To celebrate this partnership, Heineken asked design agency dBOD to create the so-called ‘Amsterdam Originals series’. Seven Heineken bottles are decorated with unique classical art design, showing the images of world famous Rijksmuseum art pieces.
I’m well aware that these art pieces have nothing to do with interactivity or connectivity, but they were just the interlude for the next creation to highlight “The Heineken Experience”.
In the centre of Amsterdam, in the most popular public places, dozens of Heineken bottles were set on green round bases. When people stopped by to get a closer look at the lonely bottle, the red star on the cap lighted up and the cap itself began rotating. A tiny glowing spot on a point of the star guided the people through the city centre.
Heineken had fitted the bottles with a GPS system with a compass in the rotating cap. The compass mechanism in the GPS means that once the holder starts to walk, the bottle vibrates and lights up, pointing out the route to follow. It guides the holders to various interesting locations around Amsterdam, taking them on a cultural and historical journey and led him at the end to the Heineken Brewery Museum!
The Heineken Experience is said to be Amsterdam’s most popular brand experience and a way for the beer brand’s consumers to learn more about its products and history. It had over 730,000 visitors last year; mostly from the US, the UK, Italy, Brazil and Spain.
The Experience offers four floors of interactive experiences, all located in the former Heineken brewery where the company’s beer was brewed for a hundred years.
And now some interactivity with Belgian beer.
Talking Beer Bottles and Direct Printing on PET-Bottles
Brouwerij Martens, a family run company in Bocholt/Belgium, has been brewing beer for over 255 years. For eight generations it prides itself on this rich tradition and above all on its famousness for its innovations in new technologies, processes and products.
With the introduction of the new “Dagschotel” (plat du jour, today’s special) beer, the brewery introduced two new technologies.
First, the Belgian brewery prints directly to PET bottles.
Secondly, thanks to this direct printing it was able to incorporate an interactive promotion campaign on the bottle.
In short Brouwerij Martens claims that bottling beer in PET-bottles and printing images of TV show characters directly on the bottles, enabling the consumer via augmented reality to talk to the printed characters, using their smart phones or tablets, are unique projects as such.
Direct printing on PET-bottles has long been a technology where bottlers have been looking for. PET-bottles are 100% recyclable, much lighter to transport and the brewery claims that the beer tastes exactly the same as beer from a glass bottle.
For the Dagschotel 33-cL PET-bottle decoration, NMP Systems, a subsidiary of KHS Germany, combined dedicated low migration UV-curable inks from Agfa Graphics with the first industrial scale Direct Print. The system prints colour images (1080 dpi, four colours + white) at PET line speeds, creating unprecedented speed-to-market and variable image decoration capability.
This is an important step forward, as NMP Systems explains: “The single most challenging aspect of direct digital print on PET revolved around solving the challenge of ink migration. PET is porous, and so if the ink migrates through to a beverage, the bottle faces a huge problem”.
Have a look at the video.
In 2014, Agfa Graphics’ low-migration (LM) UV-curable inkjet inks were honoured by “essenscia”, the Belgian Federation for Chemistry and Life Sciences Industries, with the prestigious bi-annual Innovation Award. They are based on specific chemical formulations, compliant with European guidelines on food package printing. They are designed primarily for printing directly on labels, blister foils, lids for food and pharmaceutical applications.
The incorporated augmented reality (AR) technology uses the TV-actors of an in Belgium very popular, long-running, hilarious Flemish sitcom, chronicling the adventures of a fictional local football (soccer) team, the F.C. Kampioenen (Football Club The Champions).
With the specially designed smartphone app the TV-characters come to life when a smart device is aimed at the bottle graphics. And when two bottles are brought together, the app presents a dialog between the characters. In other words, the bottles talk to each other in augmented reality on the screen of a phone or tablet.
Let’s see there is more “beer interactivity” in the future.