Using data to design coffee bags that appeal to consumers

Hayley Osbourne
August 16, 2023
An image of custom printed coffee bags, customised coffee packaging, coffee bag design, coffee packaging design, in an article on using data to design coffee bags that appeal to consumers

Known as the “secret salesperson”, packaging has become a key marketing tool for specialty coffee roasters. Coffee bags not only protect the distinct characteristics of the beans from roastery to consumer but also help promote the brand and increase sales. 

It can be tempting for you to ‘go with your gut’ when first designing coffee packaging. While the look of the bags should definitely incorporate the personality of the brand, they also need to appeal directly to consumers. 

One of the most effective ways to ensure your coffee packaging will entice your market is to conduct research. Insight into how consumers shop and what they look for in specialty coffee can help determine the design of your bags. 

To learn more about how data can help roasters create coffee packaging that appeals to consumers, I spoke with Alan Gilbody, the founder and director at Slice Design Ltd.

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The importance of packaging design

Several studies show it takes consumers an average of seven seconds to make a decision to purchase. Therefore, as a roaster, it’s essential that you understand who your customers are and what they want. 

“In order to create appeal, you have to be answering a key consumer need,” explains Alan, who launched Slice Design in 2004. “Does the consumer want expertise, advice, or reassurance? Once you understand what the need is, you can create brand propositions that are rooted in a credible and relevant story.”

Alan adds that branding is all about storytelling and packaging design is an important part of bringing that story to life. “Successful brands will create stories that transcend generations and create an emotional connection with the product.”

More so, Alan believes consumers are likely to buy products such as coffee for emotional reasons, rather than functional. “Storytelling is an effective way to link all communication, both on-pack and off-pack, to ensure consistency.”

More importantly, Alan explains the design of packaging needs to work from two viewpoints. Essentially, a coffee bag must entice consumers from 2 metres away, as they approach the product. And it must maintain that attention until the consumer holds the bag in their hands.

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How can roasters use data in packaging design?

While the way in which data is collected and used across all industries may raise ethical questions, there is no denying its potential. From reviewing production processes to analysing service to improve customer satisfaction, accurate and actionable data is invaluable. 

For instance, specialty coffee roasters often use data during the roasting process to help create safer, more consistent, and more evenly distributed roasts. Additionally, sales records can help roasters understand consumer demand and determine green coffee purchases. Both go a long way to optimising sales. 

Beyond this, fine-tuning production schedules to better reflect peaks in consumption can mitigate the problem of serving coffee that’s too fresh or too old. Essentially, objective and unbiased data can identify patterns in a way direct observation cannot. This provides businesses with the information needed to build a quality customer experience. 

Another area where the application of data is crucial is in marketing. That said, for a roaster’s marketing effort to be effective, it must be targeted, otherwise it may be a wasted effort. A product must be relevant to a customer in order to get their attention, and this ties into coffee packaging.

“It’s always good to understand data, but it’s important to remember that it will only take you so far when it comes to packaging design,” Alan says. Much of it will depend on how the research is structured. 

“For example, the data may support whether the packaging portrays the coffee effectively. However, it doesn’t provide differentiation,” Alan explains. “Brands need differentiation to stand out from the competition.” 

When collecting data for coffee packaging design, Alan advises roasters to use a credible research agency. “And, make sure they are asking the right questions. It’s of paramount importance to understand what the consumer’s needs are, and which of these needs are being met by other brands.”

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What to consider when designing coffee bags?

A 2019 study shows customers consider the packaging type, which includes shapes and materials, as well as branding and content (labels, origin, dates, contact details) when purchasing from a roaster. 

When consumers see the product for the first time, all the above elements will shape their view of the coffee. Therefore, it is vital that these elements work harmoniously. 

The process of designing packaging for coffee beans will start with the bag’s structure. This will shape how much information and detail can be shared on the packaging, so roasters will need to decide what they want customers to know. 

The next consideration will be the packaging materials. By investing in materials that are recyclable, biodegradable, or made from renewable resources, brands can significantly reduce their environmental impact. This is particularly important as a recent study revealed almost 70% of participants would pay more for a product in sustainable packaging.

Beyond this, how packaging material feels to the touch is also important. Research published by the Journal of Sensory Studies found packaging texture can impact a customer’s product perceptions and even their enjoyment of the product itself.

The most important thing to remember is to make the brand story personal. Ensure that both the packaging and marketing speak to your unique identity as a coffee roaster. 

Be proud of your brand’s individuality, and the personalities of the people behind it. A growing number of consumers want to feel included in the knowledge, skill, and innovation the specialty coffee industry represents.

At MTPak Coffee, we understand the important role coffee packaging plays in today’s market. As such, we offer a range of sustainable options that can be customised to include as much information as you require and showcase your unique brand.

Our range of coffee packaging options is made from renewable materials. Our line of coffee boxes is made using recycled cardboard, while our sustainable coffee bags are made from kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging. They also feature an environmentally friendly PLA lining

More so, both our sustainable coffee bags and coffee mailer boxes can be fully customised to reflect your brand details about your coffee offerings. Our talented design team is ready to work with you in order to make coffee packaging unique to your brand.

We also offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters who are looking to remain agile while showcasing brand identity and a commitment to the environment.

For more information on how to customise your coffee packaging, contact our team today.

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