80-Proof Perfection, Impeccably Packaged

May 1, 2005
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80-Proof Perfection, Impeccably Packaged

Bacardi employs sophisticated packaging to communicate the luxury identity of its new super-premium Corzo tequila.
When the average consumer thinks about tequila, what normally comes to mind? Frozen margaritas in 12 exotic, fruity flavors? Or perhaps a sombrero-clad senior citizen astride a donkey?
Bacardi USA challenged itself to demolish this daunting wall of perceptions with its development of Corzo, a new premium tequila aimed at the luxury market. It was a two-year adventure that presented a singular positioning, product and packaging challenge: Redefine tequila.
“With Corzo you have a super-premium product that is breakthrough. We’ve reinterpreted how tequila has traditionally been packaged and promoted,” says Gonzalo de la Pezuela, Bacardi’s vice president of marketing.
Not your father’s tequila
“Our focus is on differentiating Corzo from all of the other tequilas out there on the market. The other brands focus on Old Mexico, and we wanted to capture the new, modern Mexico in the packaging,” says Yousef Zaatar, vice president of packaging development for Bacardi. “The packaging is at the heart of Corzo’s success; the tequila is the soul because it is the only tequila to distill after aging.” The patented process uses twice the agave per liter than other premium tequilas.
Let it be said that this new packaging highlights an exceptional product. Making tequila is a time and labor-intensive process, taking eight years for the cultivated Blue Agave cactus to mature before its sap can be harvested. Corzo uses only the heart of the agave plant (“the best of the best” in Zaatar’s words), which is then distilled over the course of several months. Corzo is the only distilled tequila on the market, guaranteeing its smooth taste and texture.
In a sterling example of crossover trends between product categories, the Corzo team adapted packaging strategies employed by the perfume industry, which has long held a deep understanding of the aspirational power of packaging.
With a premium brand and products, “the consumer is looking for himself in the package. The major perfume houses have always paid particular attention to packaging. ‘How does this product define me? What does it say about me?’” posits Zaatar. “To do that we didn’t go to an average designer—we were setting a very high bar.”
With this in mind, they turned to Fabien Baron, the noted perfume bottle designer, highly lauded for his graphic overhaul of Harper’s Bazaar in the 1990s and as the designer of Madonna’s much-discussed Sex book.
“Unlike the typical approach to tequila packaging, we wanted to reflect the modern side of Mexican design. A more innovative and unexpected bottle was also a good complement to the traditional craftsmanship of the Corzo tequila,” says Baron.
Taking its inspiration from modern Mexican fountains as well as the elegance of Mayan architecture, the thick-walled, rectangular bottle (83/4 x 4 x 2 inches) is made of clear glass with an elegant, brown-hued 13/4-inch label embossed in silver. The unusual, off-center neck features a heavy silver cap richly embossed with the Corzo name.
“Look at the cap, it’s heavy and solid, like the structure of Mexican architecture. The label is simple and elegant to reflect the overall look and feel of Corzo,” says Zaatar.
“We have created a new category of a ‘bookshelf’ bottle—this beautiful rectangular bottle is display-worthy.”
Beyond the bottle
Baron was charged with designing the entire Corzo experience, secondary packaging included. With the exterior packaging, Bacardi sought to achieve a unique element with a luxurious feel and handsome look.
“Everything about Corzo’s packaging is top-notch and true to the vision of the designer – and those elements that could enhance the product’s warmth through color and texture. We put as much thought into all of these elements as we did the actual bottle,” says de la Pezuela.
To achieve this high design goal they partnered with FiberMark, a supplier of luxury goods materials. FiberMark’s proprietary latex-saturated materials have been selected by many of the world’s leading brands for their entertainment, luxury and specialty packaging.
“We didn’t have much experience with FiberMark in the past. We sought them out, and they were able to provide the special look and feel that we were after,” says Zaatar. “We wanted a custom color to match the other elements—no stock color would do.”
Working with the design team, FiberMark supplied a 23-pt vat-dyed board in the rich brown shades that serve as the overall Corzo signature color scheme. The vat-dyed-board production process is a complicated one; the precise amount of colorant is added to raw pulp prior to its production.
“It’s funny. Someone handed me the gift box one day, and it really felt like I was receiving a gift,” says Greg Sandusky, a packaging specialist with Bacardi. “The packaging’s color, weight and texture perfectly fit our needs.”
Corzo’s coronation
Bacardi introduced Corzo in fall 2004. With the most refined, premium tequila available on the market; paradigm-busting, innovative packaging and an armload of glowing notices in the mainstream national media, many tequila enthusiasts might well pose one important question: Why haven’t I seen it?
de le Pezuela explains: “While our intent is to go national, this is not a mass-market approach. What we’re doing is selling one-on-one, talking with tequila connoisseurs. This is a long-term effort that requires a word-of-mouth/viral marketing approach.”
 More than matching their design prowess with marketing acumen, the initial launch was in selected markets containing knowledgeable and discerning tequila consumers who would most appreciate its superior nature. These first markets include Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Denver and Dallas.
“It’s moving on-premise very quickly and wherever we place it, it turns. So we’re quite eager to expand to other markets, but we need to do it slowly due to the premium nature of the product,” says de la Pezuela. “We’re very pleased that Corzo has been embraced as a sophisticated product in sophisticated packaging for a sophisticated consumer.” BP
Where to go for more information...
Luxury packaging materials. At FiberMark, contact Stella Alstede at 800.843.1243 or packaging@fibermark.com.
Package design. At Baron & Baron, contact Fabien Baron at 212.397.8000 or www.baron-baron.com.

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