evian Designer Bottles Spur Imitators


evian Elie Saab designer bottle - courtesy of fashionfoiegras.com.
evian Elie Saab designer bottle – courtesy of fashionfoiegras.com.

For the seventh consecutive year, evian has commissioned famous fashion designers to design a limited edition bottle for them.  Following in the tradition of Issey Miyake, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Diane von Furstenberg, Elie Saab has agreed to design a limited edition glass bottle for evian.  Saab’s unique patterns is described to depict a lace gown, which showcases the strong attention to detail and expert craftsmanship for both Saab and evian.

It appears that evian has forged a strong partnership between their premium bottled water brand and the fashion industry.  With seven consecutive years of unique glass bottle designs and no indication of slowing down, this has become an annual tradition that all beverage shoppers look forward to (this one included).  As all successful ventures spur imitators, it is very likely that other beverage brands will follow in evian’s footsteps by collaborating with artists and designers.  Diet Coke has commissioned Marc Jacobs to design a collectible bottle for them, specifically available in the European markets.  Prior to that, both Diet Coke and evian have both sought out a collaboration with Jean-Paul Gaultier for limited edition glass bottle designs.  And most recently Perrier got into the designer bottles with Andy Warhol collector glass and plastic bottles.  However, in trying to imitate evian, which beverage manufacturer has done it right and which hasn’t?

It seems that Diet Coke has done it right and Perrier has not.  The partnership choices with Marc Jacobs, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Andy Warhol are all great choices.  Despite being artists and designers in different industries (fashion and art), they all represent important facets toward artistic culture.  However, while Marc Jacobs, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Elie Saab were commissioned to design the bottles in their current years, the Andy Warhol  bottles are a design from twenty years ago.  The difference is that what was current twenty years ago is not necessarily current today.  And the designs with Jean-Paul Gaultier and Elie Saab were a direct collaborative effort with the designers themselves, Perrier’s collaboration is with the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Beyond the design, the other major flaw in Perrier’s strategy has been its packaging itself.  A designer bottle must convey elegance and prestige, which will certainly exist for glass bottles.  Even aluminum cans can have this elegant property when designed properly.  Plastic bottles do not carry this trait.  Plastic bottles carry with it a notion that it changes the taste of whatever beverage it holds with it.  It also carries with it the perception that it was born out of a replacement for glass bottles.  In addition to glass and plastic, see the image below for the various sizes that Perrier has made their Andy Warhol collection available for purchase.  Despite the different product sizes and shapes that Diet Coke can be found in, the designer products were only limited to glass bottles and select aluminum cans.  evian created a special 750ml size for their designer glass bottle.  Neither made it available across their entire portfolio.  Once this has been done, it takes away the prestige factor because it’s not as scarce.

Courtesy of businesswire.com.  Perrier's Andy Warhol collector bottles - available in both glass and plastic.
Courtesy of businesswire.com. Perrier’s Andy Warhol collector bottles – available in both glass and plastic.

Perrier’s final flaw: distribution.  Not that Diet Coke showing up in grocery stores is any better, but the Perrier bottle has been found with the dollar channel.  Does this need any more explaining?  Collectible, and fashionable products rarely make its way to dollar channels or wholesale channels simply because of the channel’s image.  With Andy Warhol Perrier being found there, what does that do for the brand and the product?  I would imagine that it lowers its prestige and elegance.

In the end, it may only be a question of whether the Andy Warhol Perrier bottles actually helped Perrier sell more product.  However, the broader question may be whether this collaborative effort has actually been detrimental toward both Perrier and Andy Warhol.

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