5 minutes with Highfield Gin
In this edition of packaging newsletter, we chat to the family run business Highfield Gin who are based in Derbyshire.
1. Tell us a bit of history about the Highfield Gin and how it first started?
The gin was a key product when we re launched the business with the new, Highfield Drinks Group branding. We are mainly a water company, with our own source of spring water on the family site that our ancestors bought way back in 1912, we did a lot of market analysis and as everybody knows, gin is a massive product now and is enjoyed by pretty much everyone. We then wanted to develop a product that would enter into the premium end of the market and we already had a very strong customer base that we felt would really get behind this product – we supply a lot of restaurants, bars, hotels and retail outlets who were very excited to see a brand new product in a brand new area in something that we hadn’t entered into before.
2. We love the premium packaging, what was the inspiration behind it?
That was it pretty much! We wanted the premium feel with the product and were never interested in being a ‘quantity over quality’ product and we hoped that came across in our branding. We wanted to develop a product that would look great on a bar shelf as well as your shelf at home without totally breaking the bank, because of this we used the ‘gold leaf’ theme to our advantage and you can see it is a constant across all of our gin variants.
3. In terms of the creation of the packaging, has it evolved over time through trial and error, or did the team nail it first time?
I think we nailed it second time around. First time the branding was good but to me it just looked a bit too ‘busy’ so some of the factors needed to be sharpened. We originally looked at having a golden tree which would go from the bottom to the top of the bottle with the words ‘Highfield Gin’ somehow intertwined with the branches and leaves but it was way too hard to read and made absolutely no sense, especially with the bottle shape and design that we chose from the beginning which is the bottle that we use now. Because of this, we looked at another option and another company who did pretty much nail it first time from memory, if not the first time then it wasn’t a long, drawn out process which was great and they also did all of the branding for our relaunch with a fresh branding approach for all of our products and marketing material.
4. Were you able to find a supplier quite easily, how did it come about?
We knew our supplier before we actually got the branding finalised. It was a chance conversation through somebody that was introduced to us by our glass bottle supplier from memory and they had great experience, knowledge and knew exactly what we wanted to do with the product without messing around too much. We got a lot of complements from the bottle shape and design so we were already on a good footing when we began discussions – how we wanted the product to look, taste, feel, smell and everything else that really makes the product stand out.
5. Tell us a bit more about that and what the brands ethos and view is on sustainability within packaging?
All of our gins arrive to our customers in cardboard boxes, we still have to use plastic in some areas of the delivery, especially when we send bottles direct to consumer just because of the distribution companies that we use and what they can take for space etc. The glass bottles that our gin is in is of course, full recyclable but we understand that it can be costly to transport and create. Because of this, we have made decisions as a company as a whole to pick up the slack in other areas, for example we have some exciting products coming out such as our natural spring water in aluminium packaging and moving away from plastic where we can. If we do have to stay with plastic, as for example we supply a lot of the education sector with our bottles of water, we’re making our bottles fully recyclable and also made from recycled plastic as well, to put this into context at the beginning of 2020 we could only give our customers a bottle that was made from 25% recycled plastic, so we’re really making big steps in the right direction here.
6. Do you feel ‘shelf-stand’ is becoming more and more important for brands?
Of course, especially in the sector of gin and alcohol because bar shelves and marketing is so important. If you get the marketing right with a brand or product, then the rest will follow in my opinion. We haven’t got our marketing spot on as of yet, but a lot of people have got behind the brands that we offer which has been great to see, especially on the locality element and the brand story that we can offer. I do sometimes think that companies get a bit too hung up on how it will look on a shelf and not how it would look on a marketing image when its stood on its own, similarly going back to my point earlier about our ‘busy’ branding on the first run of ideas that we did, the tree idea was a great idea but it just didn’t work on a bottle. Something that we did actually do that I was happy with is that our bottles are square and we use the same bottles across our whole Highfield Gin range, meaning that they fit perfectly side by side with no wasted space in between them which has actually won us a lot of business in the hospitality sector through somebody deciding to take all 4 products because they fit on the shelf so easily, I would say that this was the plan from the start, but really we just liked the bottle and that was another box ticked as we developed the products!
7. Are there any exciting plans for Highfield Gin we can look forward to seeing?
We have some really exciting plans across the whole of Highfield Drinks Group. With the water side of things I mentioned a range of Still and Sparkling water in aluminium cans as well as an adult soft drinks range which will focus on being low in calories, great in taste – this will include some well known favourites such as Ginger Beer, Tonics and Presses. On the alcohol side of things we’re launching a Hard Seltzer very soon and I’ve just signed off the designs for that product, this will be using our own sparkling spring water, alcohol and flavouring which will make them low in calories but tasting great over ice, directly poured from the can and the Hard Seltzers are products that have done really well in the States. We’re also doing some Highfield Gin Cocktails, these will mainly be direct to consumer products and something for everyone to enjoy at home or when entertaining guests. We have so many plans that I wish I could tell you more about, but there are some things that I don’t dare mention in case they don’t materialise! Effectively, we want to use our source of spring water as the main ingredient in so many products due to the quality of the water and the scope that we can go into with our bottling equipment and vision – watch this space!