Peter Dunne founded his family run business, CellarDine, in 1998. Selling wine and bar products to make your experience in drinking wine finer. CellarDine pride themselves on having at their core a strong design process and most importantly, using insight and vision, to serve the customer the products they need to make life easier. His clear and proven track record in design-led products is evidenced by being an award-winning company, selling over 2.3 million products worldwide.
Peter shares with us his valuable tips in the design industry, such as holding true to the passion which allows innovation to ring; the importance of market research, and understanding his customers, so he can develop the products which will work for them. With such insight, he can design with functionality at the forefront. He is not a designer to shy away from difficult moments in the design process but learns from mistakes, strengthening his knowledge and resolve to design bigger and better.
From being a guest on Chris Evans’ Radio 2 show to being copied by a large high-street retailer, Peter has gained a wealth of experience on how to protect his designs and business. He has the ability to move with the times and keep his products updated for new consumer trends in a fast-paced marketplace. Peter has also gained the acumen to use the ACID benefits to the fullest. Using the ‘Member of ACID’ logo on his website, packaging, and literature as deterrence. Lodging his designs on the ACID IP Databank and reaching out for support when he needs legal advice.
Peter’s strong sense of ethics influences how he creates products and what responsibilities a business should uphold, whether it be for customers, the planet, or competitors. He endeavours to stay sustainable in his approach to materials and partnerships. His view on how businesses should act with social and industry responsibility is commendable. He understands innovation can only be free, grow, and flourish when designers’ intellectual property (IP) rights are upheld and supported.
When and why did you first start creating your products/designs?
I come from a retail background having worked for Army & Navy stores and Debenhams and saw first-hand the impact something creative could have on the shop floor. I always had a real passion for wanting to produce something unique and a little different that customers could relate to. My first concept as a prototype was developed mid-80s but I could not get it made for a price that was commercially viable. Little setbacks like this at a young age were invaluable and taught me to be a little more patient among other lessons.
You say your design process starts from pen to paper. What is the key to your success in the design process?
I keep it very simple, again drawing on my retail experience, I have a sign on my office wall that states: “Think like a consumer” in reality this means the design and ease of use must be easy to use and understand, if it’s in any way complicated the consumer will not buy into the product, this thought process covers both products, packaging and everything we do in terms of bringing the product to market.
The first product I designed that came to market was the Therm au Rouge red wine sleeve, this took nearly 4 years to complete as the warming process was critical in getting to the correct temperature. The response from the market was amazing as it was the first product at the time to take a cold bottle of red to the perfect temperature in minutes. To date, we have sold over 2.3 million and exported to 28 countries.
I am not a patient shopper myself and if an item does not convey what it is in seconds I lose interest, that also applies to where it’s merchandised on the shop floor, for example, product adjacencies, ticketing, etc. Just don’t make it complicated for someone to buy your product, if customers have to work out what my products do, I would view that as a huge failure on my part. If my products are a success, that judgment is 100% with the trade and consumer customers!
Your award-winning Wine Electronic Decanter is truly an industry innovation in design. What was the inspiration behind this great product?
This product was a collaboration with a US partner and Dean Levin should and must take 100% credit, for a truly innovative product that captures the very essence of style and design. My Rouge 02 electronic wine breather a “silver award” for the industry’s best new product was developed to speed up the normally lengthy process of aerating and breathing wine, reducing the time from hours to minutes. The Rouge 02 has been an amazing product and has been exceptionally well received by the trade and public since its release in 2004.
I had a live interview on Radio 2 with Chis Evans a few years ago who was interested in showcasing us for his “innovation slot” which was an amazing experience. We have since modified the design to keep up with the times and teamed up with wine producers to help educate the public about the benefits of breathing wine in advance of drinking. The taste difference is significant, it’s all about making sure we all get what we are paying for when buying our favourite wine.
Sustainability in your business is clearly important to you. Please could you speak a little about how you incorporate it into your business model?
When we look to develop any product whether in-house or with a partner, it’s absolutely crucial to us to look at materials that are recyclable so a product is sustainable and work with supplier partners who share this passion. This is easier said than done. We also ask our supplier partners to sign up for our ethical audit programme where all facilities are audited.
Do you have any advice for businesses on how they can be more sustainable in their approach to business?
It’s a case of working with the material and product partners whom 100% buy into your thought process and vision. Working with a partner who is not as 100% committed as you, will be a drain and time-consuming.
Did you have any knowledge of intellectual property when you started your business?
I had a little knowledge but nothing to the level that was required, it’s been a real journey for me and one that has enabled me to become much more aware of IPR on every level. For me, it is very important to ensure that our customers receive original CellarDine products, most of which have taken years to create.
As you are such a long-standing and respected member of ACID, which ACID Membership services have you used and how have you benefited from being a Member?
We very much value our membership no 24, the ACID logo is on all our packaging, website, and stationery. Prevention is better than cure! We sadly had to use the legal affiliate scheme for services when a particular major UK retail chain decided to blatantly copy an original CellarDine product. The saddest part was that we trusted this retailer through the development process as were working as part of a retailer/supplier team, just prior to the court date they settled.
For me, it was a real shame it had to happen in the first place. When everyone is crying out for innovation and creativity, this type of activity makes people nervous about investing, which is the opposite of what our industry requires!
Have you brought anything new to the marketplace recently that you would like to share?
For the last two years, we have been investing in a new website, new coordinated recycling packaging plus a social media and press programme to help support customer sales. This was a huge project to undertake as we felt it was crucial to raise the awareness of our brand and help/direct the public where to go to purchase original CellarDine products. I am delighted at the reaction from customers with regard to our efforts as listings and sales have grown as a direct result.
What is the best aspect of ACID Membership for your business?
Having the membership provides a number of benefits, primarily it’s the security that we are in a position to make sure our customers receive originality with confidence. Being a part of ACID we hope will at least deter companies from copying our IPR. As a business, we will protect all our retail and supplier partners and the public who are working hard to support us.
What advice would you offer to a new designer?
Fully investigate your market and product area for competition, potential revenue, costs, patent procedures/costs per country, and investment on return. Work with a reliable patent attorney who will charge a sensible fee. A solicitor will be happy to provide NDA templates even though these can also be found online. However, appointing a solicitor will add credibility and assurance. 100% believe in your design/development, no spreadsheet or legal document will ever make up for your passion, enthusiasm, or drive for your product – make it happen!
ACID values the support of its members to enable us to campaign for design law reform. Do you have any messages for Government/Policy Makers on IP issues? Do you think that copying of designs is deliberate and blatant?
A very interesting question. Having been copied by a high-profile retail chain, despite winning the case, I have to say it was both a devastating and bruising experience as I lost trust overnight in the very industry where I was trying to make an impact. It was not me being naïve it was a simple case of someone wanting to take my idea at no cost to them and make money without any recourse. It was so disrespectful. It was a hard lesson as it was a retailer I trusted.
The government seems to be resistant in bringing these types of companies to task. However, I do think a two-pronged approach is required. One of education, is to highlight to the companies undertaking infringement the costs involved in both the development itself plus the potential damages. All industries are crying out for innovation and new product development must be protected, but this comes at a cost and also personal sacrifice. Secondly, creating and promoting a clear list of companies that are causing the infringements and the lost sums involved. This should deter businesses from making such infringements.