It’s an often-overlooked fact that over 70% of purchasing decisions are made at the store shelf, a reality that supermarkets, small grocers and retailers are keenly aware of. When combined with the sheer volume of brand choices and options available to the consumer today, there’s little question as to why so much value is placed on well designed and functional packaging.
When it comes to packaging coffee for retail, the formula is relatively simple. Coffee packaging needs to strike a balance between communication of the brand message, while preserving and facilitating the use of the product. Author James Pilditch made this argument back in 1957, in his book titled The Silent Salesman. Choices in how you package your coffee serve to reflect your brand’s values, and can be your biggest asset when it comes to communicating the brand message on an initial purchase. Successful coffee packaging also serves as a flag for your brand in crowded retail spaces, thus the importance placed on quality packaging when trying to get in the door with grocers at any level.
Having worked with roasters from all ends of the coffee industry spectrum in need of custom printed packaging, there is one successful brand that stands out in it’s goal of being a regional coffee roaster working to gain a foothold and traction in local markets, grocery and retail chains: New Roots Coffee Company and head roaster Joseph Zimmerman. Based out of the rural Central Wisconsin town of Ringle, Joseph has developed an exceptional line of fine, fresh roasted coffees, which are now available in independent local markets up to larger grocers like Whole Foods.
As a relatively new roaster, the path to retail success for New Roots took time, patience and an understanding of perspective from both the retail buyer and end consumers of his coffee. “The initial sale does involve some risk for the buyer,’” said Zimmerman. “We don’t have a café or our own storefront to reinforce the brand experience, an advantage that other larger roasters on the same shelf sometimes have. For us, the packaging needed to convey total transparency from the source for the green coffee to the quality and freshness of the finished product.”
Referring to his own experience in selling New Roots Coffee into major grocers, Joseph went on to explain the importance of shelf stable packaging both from a presentation and product quality standpoint. “The quality of our coffee is what got us in the door with the buyer, but ultimately having well developed packaging which included a unique identity for each of our roasts complete with UPC’s made the process easier without a doubt.”
Top 5 Success Strategies for Custom Packaging
By Mike Mead, Roastar
Understanding Print Methodology
There are endless choices for everything nowadays, print methodology is no exception. When choosing a print vendor take time to understand your vendor’s printing process, as well as other available options which may be better suited for your particular needs. If lots of skus, short lead times or small volumes are needed, a digital print vendor/manufacturer may be your best choice. If design for your packaging changes infrequently, you have few skus /colors and aren’t in a rush, traditional rotogravure or flexographic print processes may be a better choice.
One of the things that we often see overlooked by small to medium sized roasters is a planned lifecycle for design of their packaging. Can your packaging design accommodate changes in design trends, expansion or changes to your product line without obsolescence?
One of the keys to successful packaging that bigger brands understand is consistency. The advent of digital printing has opened up opportunities in flexible packaging for variable data and imagery that weren’t available to smaller brands just a handful of years ago. When applied properly, and with consistency in key brand tenets mind, variable print can deliver a highly personalized brand experience – think Jones Soda.
As the billboard for small to medium sized coffee brands without an ad campaign budgets on a national scale, the material choice and finish for your product’s packaging can either serve reinforce the brand message, or completely muddle the message. Consider visual & tactile senses of the consumer, and weight them against the practical needs for shelf life and rigors of shipping if applicable.
Attention to Detail
As mentioned above, as a small to medium sized brand your packaging may very well be your salesman. Consider the virtues of a good salesman and apply them to your packaging. Is your packaging honest, does it accurately present the values of your brand, does it reflect the quality of the product?