Drinking Outside the Box

Alternative packaging is convenient for customers, but a challenge for operators

Bota Box volume was up by double digits in 2014.

Wine in a Tetra Pak? Ready-to-drink cocktails and shots in a pouch? Brillant … if you’re a consumer. But for the convenience-store operator, these packaging innovations can be a head-scratcher.

Alternative packaging for alcohol arguably originated decades ago with wine in a box. While consumer perception of boxed wine hasn’t always been favorable, that’s no longer the case.

“Many consumers are now accepting of the ‘box wine’ proposition and appreciate the

portability, easy pour and ease of storage,” says Donna Hood Crecca, associate principal for Technomic, a sister company of Convenience Store Products. “Bota Box is one of the fastest-growing wine brands, up double digits in volume in 2014.”

Manteca, Calif.-based Bota Box offers a suite of wines in 3-liter recyclable boxes (the wine itself is kept inside a BPA-free plastic pouch) and 500-mL Tetra Paks. Tetra Paks are attractive because they offer the ability to reseal, Crecca says.

Another adult-beverage brand with alternative packaging is Beso Del Sol, which offers white and red sangria in 3-liter boxes and 500-mL Tetra Paks. The Tetra Pak format is available at select 7-Eleven convenience stores throughout Florida, Southern California, Texas and Virginia.

But alternative packaging extends well beyond Tetra Paks and boxes. There’s also the pouch.

Pocket Shot offers seven flavors of 80-proof varietals in 200-mL stand-up plastic pouches; Gasolina has ready-to-drink cocktails in 200-mL aluminum pouches; and Daily’s is known for its frozen cocktails in 10-ounce pouches.

“These types of formats provide convenience to the consumer. Many, such as the Daily’s line, are single-serve and portable, easy to put on ice in a cooler and take to the beach or on a boat with no concerns about handling glass,” Crecca says.

While easy to throw in a cooler, these alternative packages cannot simply be thrown into a convenience-store cold vault. The different sizes and shapes present a unique challenge.

“(They) may not fit with established shelf sets, either in the cooler or warm merchandising,” Crecca says. “So while they speak to convenience, they may require operators to merchandise them in different locations than other adult-beverage options.”

Merchandising outside of adult beverage, however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“That can also present an opportunity to call attention to the offering,” says Crecca.