The Garrulous Jay – Boxing Clever

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Sometimes, on a wet Wednesday evening in winter I fancy a warming glass of red wine. This presents me with a First World problem: do I open a bottle and end up finishing it, or do I find myself pouring away half the contents three days later once it’s gone off?

I’ve written before about the way in which some of the best business innovations take an old idea and do something new or different with it.

In seeking to address the midweek wine-drinkers’ dilemma described above, that’s what the founders of Laylo did with the humble wine box.

Not for them the large tub found at the bottom of supermarkets’ wine shelves, blandly packaged and containing a beverage fit only for student parties when the vodka Red Bull runs out.

Instead, Laura Riches and Laura Rosenberger, who met while working at Naked Wines, spotted an opportunity to give boxed wine a makeover.

The fact that wine in a bag keeps for six weeks means wine lovers can now drink the odd glass without the risk of any going down the kitchen sink.

The packaging, they realised, presented an opportunity to be loud and proud about the contents by using beautiful patterns and artwork, often drawing on themes connected to the area from which the wine originates.

By reducing the size of the bag to 2.25 litres they were also able to design a box that was more elegant than its bulky predecessors, and which could sit neatly on a shelf in the kitchen.

So far so good, but clearly the wine itself also needed to be of a quality consistent with the packaging. Here Laura & Laura were able to draw on the connections they had made in their previous roles to persuade a number of open-minded producers to work with them.

They have also been able to keep inventory to a minimum and test the market as they’ve built the business, by choosing not to roll out a range to cater to all tastes in one go. Instead they have introduced new wines lot by lot, at the same time educating their customers by including a leaflet describing each wine’s provenance with every box that’s bought.

Furthermore, by using a box not a bottle, Laylo’s products are far better for the environment. Glass requires plenty of energy and is heavy to transport and bulky to pack. Boxes aren’t. The bags are more of a challenge, so Laylo will take them back if they can’t be recycled locally by customers.

So far, Laylo has been almost exclusively focused on selling direct to the consumer, backed by a carefully constructed social media campaign.

Full disclosure… I worked with one of Laylo’s founders briefly and I purchased Lot #1 when they launched three years ago. Since then it has been a pleasure to watch two entrepreneurs take a simple idea and build a brilliant business around it.

There are lessons for all existing and aspiring business owners in the Laylo story…so far.