Can the design of paper bag handles affect sales?

Amelia Cooper
June 9, 2023
An image of a coffee consumer carrying a paper bag in an article on the design of paper bag handles

Every coffee brand wants to design a striking logo and develop a standout product. However, they need to consider all the other elements that shape a customer’s interaction with a company. In the matter of customer experience within the specialty coffee market, many roasters know the devil is in the details. 

This spans everything from the final flourish of branded packaging to the usability of takeaway cup trays. One of the most neglected elements of packaging is the type of takeaway paper bag your brand offers. Customised paper bags can provide a practical means of transporting coffee while acting as a mobile billboard, increasing brand awareness while promoting the business. However, they must be comfortable for customers to hold, while being durable enough to carry the weight of roast coffee.

Notably, making a throwaway choice can have a ‌significant impact on your brand’s reputation, which may ultimately affect sales. To help keep your customer experience as top-tier as possible, it is important you choose paper bag handles that are comfortable and durable. 

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Paper bag handles: The most common styles

Some of the most common types of handles available for paper or retail bags are:

  • Twisted paper handles: Made using twisted strips of paper or cord, these are often used in bags for heavy products. Twisted handles provide a firm, comfortable grip and a high level of strength.
  • Die-cut handles: These are made by cutting out the handle directly from the material of the bag. These handles can be customised in both shape and design. Die-cut handles provide a sleek visual effect compared to attaching separate handles to the bag. However, they may be less comfortable than other handle options. 
  • Flat paper handles: These handles are made from flat strips of cardstock or paper. They offer a simple and functional solution, but a lower degree of strength, and can become uncomfortable when lifting heavier items. 
  • Rope handles: These are made using either cord or rope. Typical materials include nylon, cotton, or jute. Rope handles are often used in the takeaway packaging for luxury brands, thanks to their high quality, comfortable use, and sleek finish. 

When determining the best-fit handle for your bags, there are several factors roasters and coffee shops must consider. In addition to durability and comfort, factors such as the aesthetic, sustainability, reusability, and preferences of the target market must be carefully considered. Although these are the four handle types that are most commonly used in retail bags and for coffee purchases, their use varies from brand to brand, depending on these factors.  

In the case of luxury coffee outlets selling products at a premium price point, rope handles are a great way to ensure that this high-end experience continues across every element of service. In comparison, among vibrant and creative coffee brands, die-cut handles in funky shapes are ideally suited to amplify this brand style further. 

An image of a paper bag, Starbuck custom-printed paper bag with twisted paper handles, in an article on the design of paper bag handles

Why are the handles of paper carrier bags so important?

In order for a brand to be successful, it needs to be deployed in a comprehensive and harmonious way. There is no benefit in creating an elegant takeaway coffee cup, and then handing a customer a shabby paper carrier bag that tears on their way out of the door. After all, building a brand is about creating the best possible impression and experience, while ensuring consumers return to your establishment. 

Offering customers custom-printed paper carrier bags can help to improve the consumer experience, increase customer loyalty, and may even encourage repeat sales. Determining which material is best for paper bag handles can help:

  • Ensure sufficient strength and durability based on the weight of the products being sold.
  • Provide a bag that is reusable, depending on the materials chosen. This is an effective way to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.
  • Support wider branding and marketing efforts, with a consistent, harmonious brand image. 
  • Provide a bag that is easy and comfortable for consumers to use.
  • Support the brand image and consumer perceptions of the company, as one that is high quality, conscientious, sustainable, and enjoyable to buy from. 

In these ways, choosing the right material for paper bag handles can have a significant impact. It can help foster customer experience levels and build consumer loyalty while potentially boosting repeat sales numbers. 

An image of custom-printed paper bags, customised paper bags with rope handles in an article on the design of paper bag handles

Should custom-printed paper bags match your coffee packaging?

All the handle options listed above can be customised to match a roaster’s branding and coffee packaging. Notably, the customisation of paper bags is a widespread practice, both within the specialty coffee industry and beyond. 

Customising paper bag handles can help enhance customer experience while boosting brand awareness, as consumers carry the branded bag around with them. Furthermore, it provides roasters and brands with an opportunity to be bold and creative with designs. That said, it is important that roasters are aware customising paper bags will often come at an additional cost. Customising takeaway bags represents a great investment. They can help set a brand apart in a crowded marketplace, enhancing the customer’s experience and impression of the brand. 

Custom-printed paper bags can be a highly effective way for coffee businesses to provide an enhanced shopping experience for customers while simultaneously promoting the brand. More so, when each design element is carefully considered, paper bags can become a reusable, low-cost marketing tool. By investing in eco-friendly and sustainable materials, coffee businesses can also demonstrate their commitment to the environment and attract eco-conscious customers.

Roasters who choose to customise their paper bags will need to ensure the packaging supports all of your brand values. This means paying a close eye to both the style of the bags, and the recyclability of all the materials, inks, and adhesives that are used in its manufacture. At MTPak Coffee, our team of expert designers have decades of experience creating custom-printed paper bags that reflect your brand identity and can safely carry your coffee bags. 

Made entirely of paper, our paper bags can be custom printed using flexographic or offset printing, making them ideal for packaging customer purchases. More so, we offer a wide range of customisation techniques, including spot UV with a glossy, satin, or matte finish, embossing and debossing, as well as hot foil stamping in a variety of colours, to name a few. 

For more information on stock or custom-printed paper bags, contact our team.

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