“Nice, a more feminine look”, “The handbag format is ideal for women to carry and it looks nice”. These were just two of the many comments said to be directed at the 1×4 Over the Crown bottle pack supplied by Riverwood International into the UK market in partnership with the brand owners of PPL products.

As a key supplier to the beverage industry, Riverwood says it commissioned extensive European research into consumer preferences for glass multipacks. The perception of chilled drinks as commanding a premium image and potentially a higher retail price was said to be borne out at each of the consumer sessions.

“The groups in France, Germany and the UK all picked up on the key attributes of the paper board multipack – security, branding and portability – and expressed a preference for this format over other more standard offerings, says Mike Healey, marketing manager at Riverwood. “The surprise was not so much that we needed new innovative design but that the existing 1×4 slimline pack was so popular.”

As the research was concerned with the preferences of the female purchaser, the groups were independently selected to reflect the territories and the age groups likely to purchase multipacks.

The focus group research also highlighted that consumers were looking for a high quality packaging image from quality brands and that the popularity of the US style basket six-pack was on the increase in Europe.

Typical comments included: “It looks inviting for a cosy session with friends to put on the table” and “It’s like a little wine rack and I wouldn’t have to spend half an hour rummaging around for a bottle”.

It is anticipated by Riverwood that the UK market will follow the European market for larger pack formats but that the premium market will become dominated by high quality ‘fridge friendly’ multipacks sold from chiller cabinets and consumed within two to three hours of purchase.

In general the research highlighted that three kinds of shopping may affect preferences for paperboard multipacks:

1 Impulse – consumers continue to lead an unanticipated lifestyle;

2 Local – not car related as purchases reflect the rebirth of locally based shopping in urban areas; and

3 Giftable and shareable packs for occasion-based purchasing.