Although I'd used the phrase for years previously, when I got involved in this e–marketing malarkey I started saying it to web site designers to try and get them to see the web site from the point of view of the site's target user, not their own. This applies equally to many managers/CEOs/owners who want a web site they like – not what their customers will like, or what will meet the needs that have taken them to the site in the first place. Just to show that I am not alone in this way of thinking – usability guru, Jacob Nielsen says designers are not users
Sadly, I come across far too many web sites that are obviously not developed with the user - read customer - as the prime concern.
In a wider marketing context 'when you're inside the bottle, you can't read the label' means that we - the marketers - should always look at the product / brand / organization from the perspective of the customer, not our own. Although I have adopted the phrase in this context, it is based on conventional marketing concept of perceptual mapping.
Now I'm not claiming to be the originator of this phrase - I'm not that original in my thinking - so I must have got it from somewhere. Of course it is always possible that I have picked up this use of the term from something I have heard [meeting, conference, colleague] or read [book, article] - but where?
Searching on Google [or the other major search engines] is no use - they return this page and little else!
So ... if you have any idea where it originated, I'd love to credit whoever came up with the analogy - so drop me an email at email @ alancharlesworth.eu