Gift Packaging: It's a wrap

In the UK whisky accounts for more than half of all spirits gift purchases, according to Summers. “However, with white spirits embracing gifting and creating innovative solutions such as the Hendrick’s tea set, vodka, gin and indeed other categories, are now witnessing significant value growth as a result of consumer trial through gifting.”

Trial-size bottles in gift packs appeal to impulsion. “The Glenfiddich 3x5cl packs containing 12, 15 and 18-year-old whiskies have been hugely successful for the business and are now firmly established as a top 10 SKU,” says First Drinks’ Summers. “Seventy-five per cent of recipients have been new to the malt category and research has revealed that trial via the packs has converted drinkers to 15 and 18-year-old.  

“Another success story is the Sailor Jerry Good Gift for Bad People with its added-value pack containing limited-edition, collectable Sailor Jerry artwork. Much of what we do is centred on the in-store theatre around gift packs which helps provide an engaging and exciting shopping experience, key to repeat purchase.” 

Drambuie launched its first travel retail gift pack at Cannes last month. The 35cl bottle comes with a branded hipflask and is exclusive to Virgin Atlantic, with more to come in the next six months. “The pack size has been designed specifically to appeal to entry-level consumers, giving them the added value of a gift with purchase,” says William Birkin, regional manager, global travel, India, Middle East, Africa & Asia for Drambuie.

Gift packaging also plays an important role in online sales. According to Sukhinder Singh, director of global online spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange, around 15% of the site’s sales are down to gifting. 

Singh says packaging is all-important for gift-buying and “sadly more so than what’s in the actual bottle”. He adds: “In a shop you can at least ask for a recommendation and about the quality of the liquid. When ordering online, the added value and presentation is all-important because of the obvious lack of physical interaction when purchasing.” 

So what’s been selling well on the shop floor? “On the premium side of the business the Champagne and whisky companies have been really good – especially Moët Hennessy with its quirky fridges and ice buckets; the Hendrick’s Tea-Time edition is another one that stands out,” says Sue Kelly, trade planning and category strategy manager at Dublin Airport Authority.  

“We have also seen some really cool bottle treatments appealing to younger passengers on the more standard products – the Jameson limited-edition bottles are great and fly off the shelves as soon as they land, as do the Absolut limited editions. It is all about being able to buy a complete ‘ready to give’ gift solution, without having to get involved in wrapping paper and ribbons.”

Gift buying is so often the last minute solution to a long-held cultural or seasonal obligation. Whatever the level of the product or the buyer’s bank balance, there is a bottle of something, suitably gift-packed.