Does an Expensive Label Equate to a High Quality Sake?

Packaging certainly does influence customer behavior.  Packaging can evoke excitement and compulsive purchase actions.  Have you shopped for a bottle of sake to end up basing your decision on the emotional connection of the label?


A large collection of different sake products can be quite interesting.  Even if you can not read some the heavily stylized kanji, the labels, many labels are artistic.  There are many ways a product will catch our eye.  Color, Typography, Brand Name, Images and Print Finish are just some of several ways that consumers can emotionally connect with a product.


In the wine industry, labels are also varied.  Another more subtle packaging feature for wine is the bottle.  The heavier wine bottles have a deep punt.  The punt is the indentation at the bottom of the bottle.  Most consumers will associate a heavier bottle and deeper punt with a high quality wine.  Whereas the inexpensive Charles Shaw wine product famously known as “Two Buck Chuck” has a light, glass and flat bottom.


From a production standpoint the difference between the two styles of bottles is only about ten cents.  The image it conveys may seem worth the slight cost upgrade.  However, if your wine product is a high volume business model, then those nickels and dimes will add up in the long run.


Sake bottles also have some variations.  This applies more to the 720ml size.  The large 1.8 liters tend to all be the same glass shape and thickness.  However the large 1.8 liter bottles allow for an opportunity for an eye-catching label.  Some labels may use a glossy finish for the kanji.  That is an added cost that may give the product a more luxurious image.  There are also some brilliantly colorful images that may include iconic Japanese images such as Mt. Fuji, Samurai, etc.  Bottle color is another feature of sake that make it appealing to the eye.  Glass bottles have evolved from primarily brown (to protect the contents from the damage of sunlight) to green, blue, black, white, and even clear in some cases.


For sake packaging and bottling, and peeled sticker label with only one or two color tones is obviously cheaper for production.  Again, this may be a decision of a high volume inexpensive product.  In general, most sake is fairly priced.  By that token, the sake is priced fairly based on the cost of ingredients and labor involved.  Other industries and beverage producer outside of the sake world will more commonly leverage marketing gimmicks creating extremely high profit margins based on price and quality.  Fortunately the sake industry rarely practices unfair pricing.


While the peeled inexpensive sticker may be utilized for regular sake products, the paper sticker is often reserved for the premium categories of sake.  Many times the paper label will have a rough natural edge where it appears to have been torn and not cut with a straight edge.  These paper label represent the traditional calligraphy and paper used for the bush style strokes.


Choosing a bottle of sake is like choosing a partner.  We seek beauty on the inside and outside.