In 2015, the U.S. craft beer market was estimated to be $22.3 billion — representing a 16 percent sales growth according to the Brewers Association — and production volume increased by 13 percent. As the market expands or shrinks (depending on how you see it), craft brewers are finding themselves in need of new ways to capture consumer attention at point of sale.
To help craft brewers strengthen their presence in the marketplace, Georgia-Pacific — along with PAX Corrugated — recently became the first provider in North America to launch digitally printed corrugated materials at scale. Through its Color-Box packaging solution, Georgia-Pacific now offers craft brewers the ability to customize graphics on six-, 12- and 24-pack carriers. With decades of experience supporting brands of all sizes across a spectrum of product categories, Georgia-Pacific is lending its expertise to support the growing craft beer industry and help brewers get the best out of their packaging.
Craft Brewing Business spoke with Sergio Morales, director, product and brand development for Georgia-Pacific Corrugated, for more details on Color-Box technologies for the craft brewing market.
CBB: Sergio, thanks very much for taking the time. First off, tell us more about how you learned that there was a need for your packaging offerings in the craft industry.
Morales: When we first participated in the Craft Brewers Conference back in 2014, it became clear to us that the craft brewer movement is all about the micro brewers. It made us realize that the way to be successful in this space is to have a packaging solution that caters to the small entrepreneur and at the same time is rapidly scalable. We need to be able to satisfy the needs of brewers while they’re starting up and scale up as they grow. We developed an e-commerce website which gives us the ability to minimize transaction costs and standardize our offerings so that we can offer cost-effective options for small brewers while they establish their businesses.
CBB: How does the package engage with customers and create brand loyalty?
Morales: Color-Box packaging was developed specifically to make it easy for brand owners to use high graphics corrugated packaging as a major marketing tool. It can help brewers not only to create impactful packaging for their regular varietals but also to offer retailers exclusive and seasonal offerings.
Because of the prohibitive cost of traditionally manufactured beer boxes for small brewers, it is not unusual to see brewers using a plain box with a beer bottle label attached to identify the contents. By using customcolorbox.com and customizing the outer shipper for each flavor, the brewer has an instant billboard advertising their product. Now that case of beer is telling the story of that brewer from the time it is packed through distribution to retail, and ultimately carried into a party or barbecue for all to see. Brewers spend a lot of time and money getting their story conveyed through a small label or other printed media, like a coaster or signage in a bar. Our solution uses the case package or carrier to share their story at every point in the supply chain.
CBB: Walk me through how this process works. What will craft brewers do to place an order?
Morales: On customcolorbox.com, visitors can easily download a packaging template, upload a design with their own artwork and then send it to Georgia-Pacific printing experts to receive a quote and proof. Once the final proof is approved, Georgia-Pacific will print the design and send the corrugated design to PAX for final converting. Customers can expect to receive the packaging 7 to 10 days after printing.
CBB: Is this custom packaging only available through the website?
Morales: We created the website to make ordering customized packaging as easy and convenient as possible for those who prefer to order online. We still do business in traditional ways so customers can reach out to us, and we’ll work with them to create a package that meets their unique needs. The website was created to meet the specific small volume needs of craft brewers and the production of digital pre-printed boxes that allow for an economic alternative previously unavailable.
CBB: Are there minimum/maximum order quantities?
Morales: There are still minimum order quantities, but customcolorbox.com is able to deliver minimums that were previously cost prohibitive. As an example, our minimum order for a 12-pack case is 800 boxes, which is one pallet of boxes.
CBB: Why did Georgia-Pacific invest in this print technology?
Morales: Georgia-Pacific is continually looking to innovate and anticipate our customers’ needs in a way that creates value for them. Digital printing in the corrugated industry is no longer a question of “if,” it is a question of “how fast.” Our intent is to be the leader in North America for using new and evolving technology to create more value for our customers. Being an early adopter of new technology is not easy or cheap, but we believe it is important to continually invest to satisfy the unmet needs of our customers. We have invested millions of dollars and expect that level of investment to continue.