Beyond custom coffee packaging: How merchandise can boost your brand 

Antonio Salles
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November 6, 2023
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Establishing and maintaining brand awareness is critical to standing out from the crowd. Therefore, to maximise the benefits for their businesses, speciality coffee roasters and cafes should consider expanding their offerings to include coffee merchandise, both online and in-store. 

Alongside custom coffee packaging, branded coffee merchandise can boost brand recognition, enhance a coffee roaster’s or cafe’s bottom line, and help foster customer loyalty.

To learn more about how coffee merchandise can benefit specialty coffee roasters and cafes, I spoke with Pedro Eschavarria, the manager at Pergamino Café in Colombia. 

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How can coffee merchandise boost your business?

Coffee merchandise can be a potent form of portable advertising, carrying a brand wherever its customers go. Branded items become free, portable billboards that promote your business to a broader audience. 

When thoughtfully designed and tailored to your audience’s preferences, coffee merchandise can tell a brand story and reinforce your presence in a fiercely competitive market. Beyond this, it can help foster customer loyalty, transforming one-time customers into devoted patrons. 

Carrying a branded item can instil consumers with a sense of belonging. For instance, exclusive items such as reusable coffee cups or limited-edition items help to make customers feel valued and appreciated. This emotional connection transcends buying coffee: it’s about being part of a brand they love and support wholeheartedly.

That said, a well-rounded marketing strategy is essential to effectively promote these items. Social media platforms such as X (Twitter), TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram allow coffee businesses to showcase their products through visually engaging content, and leverage user-generated content. 

Additionally, these platforms provide coffee roasters with opportunities to engage with their audience directly. 

Email marketing can also be used to target and nurture existing customers. Beyond this, it can provide consumers with exclusive promotions and updates on new items.  

Another strategy is to collaborate with influencers or partner with other coffee-related businesses. This can help specialty coffee roasters extend the reach of marketing efforts by tapping into an existing, engaged audience and benefiting from mutual promotion. 

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Brands who’ve had success with coffee merchandise 

For Pedro, coffee merchandise has been crucial in creating brand awareness and customer loyalty. That said, he acknowledges that the impact of these items on brand awareness can take a lot of work to quantify directly. 

However, Pedro is quick to point out that branded items have contributed significantly to sales at Pergamino Café. He explains how offering certain items has helped create long-lasting relationships with customers – particularly tourists and digital nomads.

“I think merchandise has started to become more of a ‘thing’ for consumers,” Pedro says. “As a brand, we’ve dedicated a lot of time to the design of the clothes we offer. Our merchandise goes beyond featuring a simple logo or our brand colours: we come up with incredibly intricate designs for our clothing and it’s been working well.”

Beyond t-shirts, the brand also offers a variety of caps, custom-printed tin coffee cups, and enamel pins. Each features a unique design while showcasing the personality of the brand. 

Another prime example is the women-owned roastery, Cafecita Coffee. In addition to offering single-origin coffees from female-owned farms, the brand sells custom-printed coffee bags that feature its iconic tiger face logo. 

Natalie Webb, executive director of the brand, explains the expansion into merchandise was prompted by their customers. “We had so many customers asking for it, which was amazing. Cafecita has an incredibly loyal customer base because it isn’t just about amazing single-origin coffee. It has a strong social impact side, and people get excited about it. Our customers want to represent Cafecita Coffee.”

It is important to note that merchandise is not the core of a coffee business, and the financial benefits may vary. However, it can contribute to practical marketing and advertising efforts, which in turn, will generate more revenue.   

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What items should you consider offering? 

The world of coffee merchandise has evolved significantly over the years. It once included simple items such as branded thermos and mugs, but has since expanded to encompass more luxurious offerings, such as clothing and bags. This evolution mirrors the changing preferences of coffee enthusiasts.

Standard coffee merchandise often includes branded travel cups, t-shirts, and caps. These items not only serve as practical accessories but also allow customers to showcase their love for your brand. Notably, these traditional items continue to be significant sellers. 

However, when determining the types of items to offer, brands must consider two crucial factors. 

First, they must determine which items their customers will find helpful. For example, practical items, such as travel cups align with the daily rituals of coffee lovers, making them more likely to purchase and use these items regularly.

Second, businesses must ensure their brand and personality are accurately replicated across coffee packaging and their merchandise. The design style and messages merchandise conveys should be consistent with the brand’s identity to ensure that consumers represent the brand authentically.

At Pergamino Café, the team have focussed on releasing at least two merchandise campaigns a year. Beyond this, Pedro says they are beginning to analyse consumer preferences, such as what each gender is buying. 

He advises other specialty coffee roasters to take a leap of faith and invest in high-end, high-quality merchandise that stands out to customers, even if it involves taking some risks. Pedro also emphasises the significance of design and suggests going beyond the logo and drawing inspiration from the brand’s community and culture.

“At the end of the day, merchandise is another way for consumers to get involved with your brand and show it respect,” he says. “It’s important that we keep that top of mind and make all of our products an important part of their lives.”

Branded apparel, in particular, can transform your customers into brand ambassadors, extending your reach far beyond the walls of your café or roastery. Coffee merchandise can be so much more than a simple side venture. It is a strategic marketing move that can significantly impact the success of a business. 

By offering branded coffee merchandise, businesses can tap into the power of portable advertising and engage customers personally. Whether it’s a trendy t-shirt, a sleek travel cup, or a quirky barista balm, the potential for enhancing brand recognition and customer loyalty is limitless. 

At MTPak Coffee, we understand that your merchandise should be a consistent replication of your custom coffee packaging. Our team of expert designers have decades of experience creating custom-printed coffee bags that reflect brand identity and stand out on the shelf.

We offer a choice of 100% compostable or recyclable packaging options such as kraft paper or rice paper. Both options are natural, biodegradable and compostable. Additional choices include PLA and LDPE coffee bags. All of our packaging options are fully customised using sustainable materials.

Images courtesy of Pergamino Café and Cafecita Coffee

For more information on sustainable custom-printed coffee packaging, contact our team

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