Sensory branding: How can it be applied to custom coffee bags?

Antonio Salles
November 20, 2023
coffee bags, custom coffee bags, custom-printed coffee bags, Couplet Coffee, Sensory branding: How can it be applied to custom coffee bags, sensory branding in coffee bags

The design of custom coffee bags should ensure your product is memorable to consumers and stands out from the competition. Using bold colours, luxurious packaging finishes, and unique bag shapes can certainly help set your brand apart. However, experimenting with sensory branding can entice consumers and help foster customer loyalty. 

Multi-sensory branding is the process of incorporating the senses into coffee bags to create a more memorable customer experience. Much like the way coffee shops create a warm, inviting atmosphere for customers, specialty coffee roasters can apply the same science to custom coffee packaging. 

To learn more about how specialty coffee roasters can leverage the power of the senses on custom coffee bags, I spoke with Gefen Skolnick, the founder of Couplet Coffee

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Exploring sensory branding on coffee packaging

“Sensory branding means engaging with consumers in a way that engages multiple senses through multiple mediums,” Gefen explains. “However, speaking to someone’s senses can mean different things for different consumers.” 

In its simplest terms, sensory marketing is a strategy that aims to appeal to customers using their five senses. Over time, coffee brands have realised that unconscious and conscious awareness of sensory stimuli can affect consumer behaviour. 

A prime example of sensory marketing is a campaign that Dunkin’ Donuts ran in South Korea in 2015. When the company jingle played on municipal buses, an atomiser released a coffee aroma. This simple act increased visits to Dunkin’ Donut outlets near bus stops by 16% and sales at those venues by 29%. 

When it comes to coffee packaging, sensory marketing can include several design elements. The approach at Couplet Coffee involves holographic coffee bags to emphasise vibrant colours and a much funkier style than what is typically seen in the specialty coffee industry. 

A holographic finish on coffee bags is essentially a striking design technique that provides a 3-dimensional effect. It is often achieved through the use of specialised holographic film or foil which is applied to the surface of the coffee bag. 

The film contains a series of microscopic ridges that reflect and refract light, creating a shimmering, rainbow-like effect that changes depending on the angle of view. A holographic finish can be used across the entire coffee bag or as an accent element to highlight specific parts of the design. 

Coffee brands can choose from a range of holographic colours and designs to achieve a unique and eye-catching appearance. Notably, holographic finishes are typically used on plastic packaging materials. However,  there are now several recyclable and biodegradable options available.

“We’re big on being bright, colourful, and funkier than people are used to. That instinct in the early days ended up being very true, as more people seem to pick it up on shelves across the US,” she adds.

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How can sensory branding be applied to custom coffee packaging?

Sensory branding can be applied to custom coffee bags to enhance their appeal in several ways. When it comes to packaging that stands out, Gefen encourages specialty coffee roasters to play with the form of the bags. 

“I love it when other coffee roasters incorporate different, unique styles of packaging, such as coffee in cans,” she says. “Notably, I’ve seen a recent trend of VHS tape-style packaging in coffee.” 

“Additionally, I would argue that leaving the matte realm behind and playing around with more unique textural packaging finishes is ideal.”

Visual Appeal

Crafting visually appealing branding elements for coffee packaging involves a strategic design approach that aligns with the brand’s overall identity. This includes incorporating logos, colour schemes, and imagery that evoke positive emotions and foster brand recognition. 

Integrating visually stimulating graphics and textures is crucial in enhancing coffee bags even further. Consider using images that resonate with the sensory experience of coffee, such as cultivation scenes, brewing processes, or freshly ground beans. 

Tactile Experience

“Sense of touch is important because many times, people can recognise when a product is cheap by the simplest touch. In specialty coffee packaging especially, many tend to gravitate towards a specific kind of packaging over the other dependent on material,” Gefen explains. 

“For example, some won’t pick up a kraft paper coffee bag because they assume if the packaging isn’t something they invested in, how much could they care about the coffee inside? Personally, I don’t agree with that sentiment, but it did come up in the early days of researching coffee packaging.”

Selecting suitable materials for coffee packaging is pivotal in shaping the consumer experience. Beyond this, opting for textured materials or luxurious packaging finishes, such as embossing and soft-touch coatings, adds depth and a pleasant tactile dimension to the packaging. 

More so, the chosen materials should align with the brand’s visual identity, conveying a sense of luxury or uniqueness. Alternatively, they should reflect a compelling story about the coffee’s cultural or geographical origin. 

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How to make coffee bags appeal to the senses

Specialty coffee roasters have several customisation techniques available to them when creating coffee bags. These techniques allow for creative designs that can be tailored to specific promotions or seasons. 

For instance, incorporating embossed or debossed textures into coffee bags can help elevate visual appeal and contribute to a more engaging tactile experience for consumers. This combined approach ensures that the packaging communicates the brand identity effectively and creates a memorable and multisensory experience.

Ultimately, strategic material selection enhances packaging appeal, positively influences consumer perception, and contributes to brand loyalty and purchasing decisions.

Packaging design is a critical factor that influences consumer sensory experiences and hedonic judgments. For instance, as consumers gaze upon coffee bags adorned with carefully chosen colours and shapes, the visual appeal becomes a prelude to the taste and enjoyment that awaits within. 

Delving deeper into the nuances of consumer behaviour, studies have ventured into the concept of “sensation transference.” This psychological phenomenon suggests consumers seamlessly transfer their expectations and feelings about packaging to their sensory perceptions of the product. 

In other words, the visual harmony of design elements on the packaging serves as a gateway to shaping consumers’ anticipations and, consequently, their judgments of the coffee itself. 

This profound connection between the visual allure of packaging and the subsequent sensory experience highlights the intricate dance between expectation and reality in the world of specialty coffee, where the journey begins long before the first sip.

At MTPak Coffee, we can help you integrate sensory marketing into your coffee packaging seamlessly. Our range of 100% recyclable coffee packaging options is made from renewable materials such as kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining

Our coffee bags and custom coffee boxes can be embossed, debossed, or fully customised with transparent windows, or tasting cards, to meet your marketing needs. MTPak Coffee also offers low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters who are looking to remain agile while showcasing brand identity and a commitment to the environment.

Images courtesy of Couplet Coffee

For more information on custom coffee bags, contact our team

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Antonio Salles
Antonio Salles

Antonio brings a unique perspective to the world of coffee: one rooted in academia and personal experience from growing up on a coffee plantation. Formerly an English Professor, his to coffee writing reflects an enduring passion for the beverage. “I see coffee as a narrative that transcends cultures and flavors, crafting each article to inform and evoke emotions, and connecting readers with the rich stories woven by coffee.”

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