Wine Business Monthly

560 560 Pure Tin Capsules
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IF YOU WERE TO ask a consumer what the first thing he/she noticed about a bottle of wine was, odds are it would be the label. If you were to ask the same consumer how they determine whether a bottle of wine is of good quality before purchasing, you’d probably hear some responses including: closure type, brand name, appellation, etc. But now, there’s a group set out to bring more awareness to the capsule as an indicator of quality.

The brand PURE TIN began an awareness campaign last fall that aims to increase recognition of “pure tin” capsules and the authenticity, quality and refinement they signify. Started by three major capsule producers and the International Tin Research Institute (ITRI), PURE TIN has made it their mission to spread the word regarding the benefits of pure tin capsules.
The primary founders of the committee are tin producers in conjunction with ITRI. The goal is not only to increase awareness surrounding the economic, environmental and perceptual benefits of purchasing and using a pure tin capsule to finish packaging a wine, but to build a perception that any wine finished with such a capsule is of higher quality than its competitors.
“Tin capsules are one of the very few products where the final customer is aware that this rare metal is being used,” said PURE TIN secretary and member of ITRI Peter Kettle. “ITRI is very glad to help this campaign to promote a positive image for tin and increase the education and knowledge level of producers and consumers alike.”
The campaign launched at Vinexpo Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong when PURE TIN announced its two-year plan, a billboard campaign and press inserts in specialized magazines, a dedicated website, promotion toward influential and targeted bloggers, direct marketing operations, participation in major exhibi- tions and the organization of events related to the world of wine and spirits.

What is Pure Tin?
In order to meet the criteria for a pure tin capsule, the capsule must be comprised of 99.5 percent pure tin, with the remaining components including other trace metals. In addition, a tin capsule cannot be re-used once it has been removed from the bottle. To be called a pure tin capsule, the committee states that it must have been made with a highly-specialized, artisanal production process. Some of the benefits, according to PURE TIN, include:

• A Perfect Capsule Made of One Single Piece, Thanks to a Noble Material: The committee contends that tin’s malleability, ductility and capacity of extension allow for a single-piece capsule that will fit every time, with no seams, waves or torsion.
• A Highly Aesthetic Capsule: Pure tin allows for incredibly precise silk- screen printing, which the TCC says brings more depth and richness to colors.
• A 100 Percent Recyclable and Ecological Capsule: Because the capsule is made with just one material, it can be recycled and reused many times.
• A Capsule With a Very High Safety Level: As tin is highly flexible and malleable, it won’t become hard during the setting process. This means that consumers and sommeliers are less likely to cut themselves with pure tin capsules than with others, according to PURE TIN.
• A Capsule That is a Guarantee of the Product’s Authenticity: PURE TIN only allows exclusive producers to provide these pure tin capsules.
To denote pure tin, PURE TIN has created a seal to be used on all promotions and marketing efforts. Currently, there aren’t any bottles of wine that boast the label on the capsule, though it will likely happen in the future. Wineries that currently uses the capsule include Beluga, Contador, Muga, Marqués de Riscal, Pierre Ferrand, Cod d’Estournel, Marqués de Vargas and Angelus.

“Hundreds of wineries and spirits houses worldwide are using tin capsules, and most consumers don’t know. Most of them are focused on their top products,” said Paloma Castro, communications and PR coordinator of PURE TIN. “It is not a question of volume. It is a question of exclusivity, sense of value and care for luxury products, a care for the craft and excellence. That is what ‘pure tin’ means.”

Educating the Educators
When the committee decided to launch a marketing program, it looked to Balzac Communications of Napa, California to spearhead its efforts in the United States. Last fall, the group worked on a pilot program with a number of activities, including master sommelier outreach and restaurant tours. Following a successful run, a full program launched in April 2015. Balzac Communications’ Catherine Bugue has been busy pulling together testimonials, organizing events and creating short videos to help raise awareness. The response, she says, has been fantastic.
“Every time we mention it to someone we get:‘Ah,interesting.I never thought about that before. Tell me more,’” she said. “Pure tin, by its nature, is not some- thing you think of as exciting. But if you get into it, it’s incredibly interesting.”
Bugue’s goal is to educate the educators—the sommeliers, professors and industry celebrities who influence the consumers. For the last five months, she has been assembling master sommeliers and tasters into one room to hear their thoughts. In some cases, she has sent a bottle of wine dressed in pure tin and asked for testimonials—and what she received was a lot of interest in the product.
“We have an amazing collection of people on the front lines, a number of them with experience where they have to open up bottles all the time,” Bugue said, noting that one of their favorite benefits is that they don’t “get cut up” with pure tin.
Currently, the group has hosted sommelier lunches in San Francisco, spoken with wine educators at Napa Valley wine classes, the Culinary Institute of America and other major learning institutions. Bugue said she’s not looking for an entire class on capsules, rather just a mention to raise awareness.
“Corks are discussed heavily. Why not the capsule?” she said. “The capsule is the very first thing you see, your first impression. Wineries spend so much time and money on viticulture and winemaking, and at every level, there’s quality control. You can’t forget the point of opening, the first thing consumers see.”
Bugue and PURE TIN are strongly utilizing video in the ongoing campaign. In the fall, Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser will be the host of a new video that discusses the proper opening of a bottle—including how to properly remove a capsule—that will be distributed to wine educators, the American Wine Society, other associations and even the media.“We want it to be relaxed and let them join in the discussion,” she said. Future films will include Shelley Lindgren and her restaurant and hopefully, Bugue says, err on the lighter side with some humor and fun incorporated into the scripts.

Moving to the Winemakers, Consumers
The next step, Bugue said, is to start reaching out to winemakers and marketers at wineries—the packaging decision makers. This will likely happen after winemakers have some time to relax from harvest, and the agency will put together a similar program. The goal is simple: encourage winemakers to include capsule choice in their branding decision process.
“The brand image must be in line with the winemaker’s vision, the producer’s spirit and the quality of their product. If excellence is a core belief, then pure tin is the only choice,” said Castro. “To all the wineries that want to make an impression, we advise them to think about the added value of tin capsules.”
Following the successful run of outreach to restaurateurs, somms and educators, Bugue also has plans to push the message out to the ultimate purchaser: the consumer. A PURE TIN presence will likely be had at major tasting events as well as commission-hosted activities, lunches and more. She’s hoping that the videos created will reach beyond the trade and into the consumer’s view as well.

Stepping Up International Marketing Efforts
The United States is not the only major market the PURE TIN is targeting. Concurrently with marketing efforts in the United States, the committee has launched a campaign in France, with plans to develop the project in Spain, China and other key regions.
The website,, is undergoing a re-design that will more prominently feature the new efforts. Testimonials, videos and events will be highlighted, and the group hopes to make the website a resource for news and updated content regarding pure tin.
Testimonial films will feature heavily in the French crusade. Three are being filmed at the moment and will be shown at the Oenovideo wine film festival in Cluny this November. M. Boüard of Château Angélus will star in one of the films, and according to Castro, the group is looking into other wine celebrities to help convey their ideas and visions for the wine industry and tin capsules.
Similar to the campaign in the United States, outreach to wine educators, sommeliers, wine schools and other ambassadors will be a focus, with several events held in Paris by the end of the year.

The Future of PURE TIN
Going forward, PURE TIN has two primary objectives: continue the push toward greater understanding of the pure tin capsule, and use the branding seal on capsules as a way to denote quality. Currently, the seal is only used by the board in its promotions.
“Our objective for next year is to include it on tin capsules to denote genuine ‘pure tin’ capsules and certify to the consumer that the quality of that bottle of wine is authentic,” said Castro. The seal will be exclusive to members of the committee and can be used for tin capsules on fine wines and spirits. WBM

2015 September