The year 2015 is a special year in packaging. This year Coca-Cola’s iconic bottle celebrates its 100th anniversary, the Beer Can celebrates 80 years of its existence and the very first Bag-in-Box saw its light 50 years ago in Australia.
About the development of the Bag-in-Box I will publish a separate article. The 100 years of the Coca-Cola iconic bottle is everywhere on the internet, so that I don’t need to write about that one. The beer can is a different story. Obviously the beer can hasn’t changed significantly in these 80 years. But that’s not quite the reality. Technically we have seen many improvements. In terms of design there have been many a tentativeness, but none really left the drawing board. A fancy shaped outer form of a beverage can isn’t getting a warm applause of the marketing boys and girls of the beverage industry.
So, is the design of the beverage can at a dead end? No, there still are designers with sufficient creativity to launch something different and then particularly in a hybrid construction. In other words the combination of a plastic can/tin body and a metal (mostly aluminium) cap or lid suitable for pasteurisation and/or sterilisation.
Some time ago I wrote about the Volksbier design of a beer-glass-resembling hybrid beverage can by Remark Studio SRL in Bucharest/Rumania.
The idea came from combining two increasing trends on the beer market, the implementation of PET as packaging material and the popularity of the metal beverage can.
Because beer is worldwide a popular drink and most appreciated brands have a German origin Remark Studio developed the brand name Volksbier and came up with the popular pint shape.
It’s well-known that the big international beer brands are in decline, while the craft beer brewers are booming. The general opinion is that the consumer is fed up with, what he typifies as, the watered-down corporate-made brew which tastes as dishwater. And, as always, the consumer has a point.
Beer, industrial or craft, get its substance, what experts call body, or mouth feel, as well as any sweet and toasty flavours, from malted barley. With the malting process barley grains start germinating, which frees up their sugars for fermentation. USDA researchers analysed the US barley and beer markets, and found that craft brewers on average use four times more barley per barrel of beer than the giants do. In terms of quality this is very important. Take for example the Scottish single malt whisky. It’s made only from barley and not mixed with other grains. That’s why it has such a refined taste, in comparison with blended whisky. And that’s not much different for beer.
With the craft beer industry booming, every itself respecting country has one or more craft beer centres. So, also in Canada, where Montreal is a brewpub town, and a very good one at that, as people tell me. The brewpubs are a bit different than their American counterparts, which are often big and food-focused. In Montreal, the bar is usually short and small tables pushed together make up the bulk of the seating. Food is sort of an afterthought, which is fine, since there’s not a lack of good food elsewhere in the city. A chalkboard hangs around the bar displaying the draft list of beers brewed on site. The beer is served in imperial pints (20-ounce), verres (12-ounce), or pitchers.
Besides the direct consumption at the bar, there is a take-away sales. And this offers beautiful options for special packaging.
Guillaume Boudreau of design agency Remarke, (Fun note: The Montreal design agency Remarke must be a stepsister of the Rumanian design agency Remark, see above. Both in beer and hybrid beverage cans with almost identical names) created for Brasserie Montréal a hybrid glass/aluminium beverage can for its La Renarde beer brand. The 300 ml “beverage can” is made from recycled glass and has a lid with stay-on-tab, made from recycled aluminium.
The beer can be drunk via the stay-on-tab opening in the lid, but, and this is special, the lid itself also can be removed completely, leaving the consumer with a real glass to drink from.
There are two more developments in hybrid beverage cans. Both are, however, a bit dubious, as actually nothing is known about them, just a few photos.
The first is an illuminating hybrid beverage can, the Akvo (akvo means water in Esperanto). When you visit the website of the company in the UK, Stadmar Ltd, you find the website under construction already for a period of more than 6 months. No information there.
Apparently the design is originally Polish and comes from the aerosol manufacturer Zakład Napełniania Aerozoli „Stadmar” in Dąbrowa Górnicza, a town in Zagłębie Dąbrowskie, southern Poland.
The hybrid 330 ml beverage can is said to be made from PET with an aluminium lid with stay-on-tab. But there also are various designs of different cans, including a kind of aerosol.
The light in the bottom of the can flips on and off, but there is no information of its goal, except that you can think of some marketing kick. How it’s done and working, I don’t know.
The second dubious design, in terms of doubtful usefulness is the “Burn Animated Can”.
Burn Animated Can
Created by Djordje Djukanovic, a designer in Belgrade/Serbia the Burn Can is capable of “lighting a fire”. This pinstriped can works when the top is turned clockwise to simulate a growing fire. On the back, the name repetitively crosses the bottom of the bottle to the top in a vertical formation.
This was an experimental project for burn Residency promo pack. The idea was to make the world’s first ever animated can with no batteries or any other additional installation and to turn a product into a brand experience.
Djordje Djukanovic only used aluminium, paper and plastic foil.
More than pure aluminium or steel beverage cans, hybrid or dual-material beverage cans are attractive to experiment with as they gear toward the insatiable thirst of marketing for stand-out packaging.
Consumers want to see what they are drinking, and that could only be realised with bottles. But the most popular beverage container is the can. With the technology of dual-material beverage cans, the two consumer preferences come together.
I expect to see more fancy gimmicks as the hybrid beverage can takes off.