2014

Customization in Coffee Industry Fosters Need for Short-Run Label Printing

Primera CoffeTalk photo

Mass customization has been a key driver in one of the largest bursts of innovation in the digital age. What was once standard issue is now open source. Consumers are personalizing everything from sneakers to fragrances to coffee mugs, and the trend shows no signs of slowing. Businesses that can capitalize on this new era of micro-segmentation – and do it profitably – are poised for success.

Couple the customization trend with an ever-diversifying and adventurous consumer palate, and set it all against a backdrop of a burgeoning industry of hyper-local, single-source growers. It’s clear: Decision makers in the coffee and tea business are uniquely challenged to balance a singularly satisfying product experience with the practical realities of running an enterprise in order to meet a lengthening menu of customer demands and captivate loyal customers.

Compact, cost-efficient label printers enable small to medium roasters and converters to print and apply package labels in adaptable, customized batches, rather than large industrial-sized print runs.

Trend-setting independent coffee and tea entrepreneurs are adopting label technology to better serve their customers, expand their assortments, embrace new partners and give themselves a leg up on the competition.

Minneapolis’ Peace Coffee has been leveraging Primera’s label printing technology for over two years. “We knew we would be offering more limited runs and shorter term seasonal coffees, so we started shopping around for solutions,” said Jon Katzung, Director of Operations for Peace Coffee. “We were really looking for something to increase the flexibility of our production.”

Peace Coffee decided to invest in Primera’s LX900 printer, which has afforded them much greater agility, and the ability to adjust quickly to changing market conditions and consumer tastes. Using the printer has reduced overhead and inventory costs, and has virtually eliminated label scrap, underscoring the company’s commitment to the environment.

Moreover, Peace Coffee says they can now entertain working with small growers they wouldn’t have been able to partner with in the past. Like many small roasters, their mission is rooted in fair trade, community-building and sustainability, so being able to act immediately on emerging opportunities is a strategic imperative.

Now that they are no longer constrained by large print runs, an increasing number of customers are using custom label functionality to open blue-sky expansion for their businesses. Coffee and tea purveyors can cost-effectively offer packaging with corporate logos for gift baskets, or labels emblazoned with a couple’s photo for wedding favors. New marketing alliances abound, with opportunities to cross-promote other local businesses and restaurants with special limited edition blends, or to assist with fundraising or cause marketing for like-minded charitable organizations in their own communities and beyond.

And of course, the label is valuable real estate to use for communicating the narrative of the growers. With consumers around the globe actively engaged in seeking information about the sources and safety of the food supply chain, each package can tell a specific story about the person and the place where the product originated. Consumers appreciate authenticity, and the emotional connection these stories establish between consumers and the brand will build customers for life.

Variety is another lever for consumers to stay engaged with a brand, especially in the beverage sector. Beverage consumers are notably promiscuous and willing to try new tastes and sensations. A roaster can encourage repeat visits and basket-building at the register by continually offering new items on a short-term basis. Although SKU proliferation can be risky and hard to manage in a traditional print environment, a new label printing technology mitigates the risk of scrap and carrying costs associated with packaging overstock.

With so many choices in the coffee marketplace, being nimble, running lean and offering distinctive products can be the difference makers in the success of a small business. Short-run label printers allow entrepreneurs to achieve these ideals by freeing them from the confines of traditional print services and giving them room to customize their operations to best suit the needs of the business they envision.

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