Will Empathy Wines begin the end of instagramable packaging?

Gary V’s Empathy Wines is the subscription wine service promising to deliver great wines 3 times a year directly to your door. Empathy Wines may be changing how wine is sold, but will it also change how brands view instagramable unboxing?

Empathy Wines bucking the instagram worthy trend and building their brand by focusing on product over packaging design. Is this a sign of what’s to come? Image @Lumi

Gary Vaynerchuck is known for having built his parents business 15 years ago on social media, before social media was even a thing. He launched a youtube channel, facebook ads, and claims to have been the first in many other trends building businesses today. The question is, will brands follow his approach to packaging and unboxing?

Empathy’s simple ecommerce packaging shipper with a drawbridge style front flap that lowers to provide users easy slide out access to the three bottle tray. Upon opening the shipper you’re presented with Empathy Wine’s welcome message, “Hey There! We’re Empathy Wines we were going to make a super cool box for our wine. You know, something super instagram-able. But we’ve been too focused on making the best white wine that we could. So here it is. We hope you love it. If you still want to take a photo and share it, we’d love that! #CheerstoEmpathy”

So let’s break down Gary V’s “Welcome” message.

  • Hey There!
    • Attention directing communication, the brand is speaking directly to the reader.
  • We’re Empathy Wines we were going to make a super cool box for our wine. You know, something super instagram-able.
    • This sounds like an excuse for not giving you a super cool box, but it’s not an excuse. Consumers don’t have preconceived expectations of your unboxing, they’re there for the product.
    • Empathy is establishing context for the remainder of the statement, as well as priming you to extend empathy towards the brand (genius).
  • But we’ve been too focused on making the best white wine that we could.
    • Here’s where they flip the script, we didn’t dress up the product because we were busy making the best product we could. Personally, as a packaging designer this feels like that birthday card claiming that money has been donated to charity on your behalf. You can’t feel slighted because something good came of it, and if you feel anything but thankful you’re being selfish. It’s a marketing catch 22.
  • So here it is. We hope you love it. If you still want to take a photo and share it, we’d love that!
    • The ever important Call to Action (CTA), it’s subtle but it’s perfect in its ability to evoke an underlying sense of guilt.
  • #CheerstoEmpathy
    • Without incorporating a well timed hashtag the consumer won’t know what to tag when they post it.
    • A specific hashtag also allows the brand to track interactions from this design. If you’re A/B testing and have released two versions you’ll need to use two hashtags in order to compare and determine which works best.
Empathy Wines unboxing photo shared with #CheerstoEmpathy to twitter and retweeted by @nateS

Do you see the value behind simplifying your packaging design and telling a share-able story vs focusing on a share-able unboxing?

Is this the beginning of the end for instagramable unboxing?

Evelio Mattos - Creative Director

Named “One of the 200 Best Packaging Designers” by Lurzer’s Archive, and Graphic Design USA's "Designers to Watch", Evelio is an industry recognized packaging design expert. He's a creative producer known for strategically bridging package design and sustainability, with flawless manufacturing. Evelio’s passion for designing and engineering memorable unboxing experiences for global brands and consumers, can be seen in his creative collaborations with some of the world's most sought after brands.

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