Laylo aims high: Pushing for premium with bag-in-box

Earlier this year Laura Riches and Laura Rosenberger joined forces when they spotted a gap in the market for a new approach to the bag-in-box format for wine.

The two originally met in 2016 when working for Naked Wines, Riches as marketing director and Rosenberger as chief operating officer. Since leaving Naked Wines both had continued to work in the drinks industry and more recently each had been exploring options to launch their own businesses.

Rosenberger says: “It was so exciting to find out that we’d both spotted the same opportunity. We worked together for several years and knew we made a great team, so it made complete sense to bring the idea to life together.”

Riches says: “Laura and I regularly reflect on how lucky we were to have this amazing wine education as part of our job. It wasn’t unusual to taste a line-up of over 30 wines, with our wine director (Ray O’Connor MW) explaining what made each special or unique.

“We were sharing a flat at the time, and after a tasting we’d often choose a bottle to finish at home. There’s something so joyful about a glass of amazing wine on a Tuesday night.”

The pair have now launched Laylo, which aims to use the bag-in-box format as an opportunity to share their passion for “great quality wine as an everyday luxury”. Their plan with Laylo is to use a design-forward approach, with the aim of challenging the perceptions of boxed wine as “cheap plonk”.

They say significant improvements to the technology for bag-in-box wines also mean it is now possible to enjoy the odd glass of wine, with the rest remaining fresh for up to six weeks from opening.

Rosenberger adds: “It is also a more sustainable option, generating 90% less carbon than the equivalent volume in glass bottles.”

Boxed wine is reported to have experienced a resurgence during lockdown, with grocery retailers such as the Co-op and M&S each reporting triple-digit growth.

Wine Intelligence recently launched a report called UK: Wine Packaging Formats 2020, exploring trends of different packaging formats in the UK wine market.

Richard Halstead, Wine Intelligence co-founder and chief operating officer, says: “Regular wine drinkers are showing a growing openness towards bag-in-box with the purchase frequency of these by UK drinkers having increased during June and July 2020, suggesting that Covid-19 positively impacted bag-in-box sales, though standard glass bottles were still the biggest beneficiaries of the off-trade sales surge in the first half of 2020.

“Bag-in-box convenience and good value for money, coupled with consumer environmental consciousness, are driving this demand. However, there remains a key barrier to purchasing bag-in-box, as well as for pouches and cans – the belief that these packaging types typically contain lower-quality wine. This highlights a key challenge for producers targeting the UK market to develop a premium bag-in-box sub-category.”

Halstead notes consumers are willing to swap to alternative wine packaging types because of value, convenience and supporting sustainability.

“The main barrier to purchasing alternative packaging formats is the long-standing and habitual preference for standard glass bottles,” he says.

“Nonetheless, the picture shown in the latest data collected by Wine Intelligence in July and August portrays some new potential for alternative wine formats in the UK and we expect the positive attitude and curiosity, especially among younger consumers, to continue to drive alternative packaging formats for wine for years to come.”

Laylo is now sourcing small, limited-availability parcels of premium wine and wrapping them up in boxes that they believe consumers “will be proud to have on their countertop”.

The first 2.25-litre box (which holds the equivalent of three bottles) is a fruity Tempranillo made by Spanish winemaking sisters Ruth and Ana de Andres. It is due to arrive in October, with consumers able to pre-order from late September at drinklaylo.com.

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