However, at the start of 2010, Ramlösa was facing some huge challenges as it became clear that the iconic premium glass bottle was too heavy for transport, expensive and – in regard to production, handling and transportation – not environmentally friendly.
The obvious solution was to redesign the bottle, replacing the glass with the lighter, more eco-friendly and recyclable material. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) uses approximately 65 per cent less carbon dioxide than glass, which, as an alternative material, significantly reduces the impact on the environment.
Carlsberg Sweden recruited Nine, design and innovation agency, to design the new bottle for Ramlösa’s premium mineral water to create a more environmentally friendly bottle for the premium segment.
The challenge was to develop a bottle in plastic for the high-end market that was stylish enough to promote a shift in consumer perception in regard to PET being a substandard material for premium packaging.
The question was: Would high-end customers accept a premium product served in a plastic bottle?
Nine’s task was to investigate and identify a new design for the old glass bottle with the new material, while finding a design solution that was able to convey premium quality with the new design in PET without, obviously, losing current clients by lowering the perceived value of the product, while also working to change the market perception that bottles have to be made of glass in order to have a premium worth.
Taking close to 12 months to complete, the large team of industrial and graphic designers created a vast amount of concept sketches and prototypes.
The design process involved implementing the selected design concepts, which included elegant, sharp sculpted angles in the PET material – a creative solution proposed by Nine’s design team.
A further challenge arose from the product content itself. As carbonated mineral water constantly changes pressure, it took a number of hands-on design-engineering alterations in order to resolve the issue before the bottle could be approved for production.
The depth of the lines in the bottle in combination with the carbonated water proved to be a challenging problem to resolve, yet resulted in a type of PET bottle that had never been made before.
The next stage focused on development in regard to materials for the labels and caps, and prototypes were created. From there, the graphic artwork was completed, involving rounds of test printing on label stock to ensure functionality, placement and colour reproduction, with thorough testing on the production line.
The new Ramlösa premium PET mineral water bottle was successfully launched last year, attracting a great deal of attention, both in terms of the stylish design as well as the eco-friendly bottle. Customers reacted beyond expectation and sales immediately rose.
“The successful launch of Ramlösa in a unique premium PET bottle has increased customers by 16 per cent,” says Paul Davies, marketing director of Carlsberg Sweden. “And the more environmentally friendly packaging has been an important step in our CSR (corporate social responsibility) work.”
The new design has been a key factor in attracting clients. “The main end-consumers are typically guests at premium/high-end restaurants and bars,” says Isabelle Dahlborg-Lidström, creative director at Nine.
“They appreciate consuming high-quality food and drinks and the taste and quality that the Ramlösa brand stands for. They buy a bottle with their food or bottle of wine and consume it at the table or in the bar.”
In addition, she says, the practicality of serving drinks in plastic has also increased consumer demand. “These are two main gains with using PET instead of glass. The light plastic is much easier for customers (ie employees at restaurants and bars) to handle, both before and after the product is sold.
Carlsberg has also gained more customers since the product is much better to serve as water in nightclubs, compared to the earlier glass bottle. There is now no shattered glass when the guests drop the bottle on the floor, which is much appreciated.”
In fact, the practical, lightweight 33 cl bottle is now purchased by several IKEA restaurants, which has dramatically increased production volumes.
The recyclability of the bottles is another factor that has impressed the eco-conscious Swedish and international market. “The primary distribution is in Sweden at the moment and every bottle brings one Swedish Krona when returned at designated recycling stations,” says Dahlborg-Lidström.
Thankfully, in Sweden, the switch to PET, in general, was not something that the public needed convincing of. “In this part of the world it hasn’t been that much of a debate or obstacle,” explains Dahlborg-Lidström.
“There is a general trend towards quality material and authenticity appeal, but when explaining to the consumer that glass isn’t better than plastic, they accept that. The response is rather, ‘Wow – can that really be done with plastic?’.”
The bottles are produced and filled at the Ramlösa Mill in Ramlösa Brunn. The old glass production line was discontinued and has been replaced with a modern PET bottle production line on site.
With a wall thickness of 0.4 millimetres, the packaging weight has been significantly reduced – by approximately 90 per cent for bottles – which, of course, has resulted in faster and lighter transportation.
An estimated 10 per cent of the volumes are exported abroad, mainly to Denmark, although the product can be found in smaller quantities at specific venues around the world.
The Ramlösa premium mineral water bottle design won Best of Show, and a Diamond Pentaward at the 2011 Pentawards for packaging design.