Customisation techniques for stickers on coffee bags

Holly Szakal
November 30, 2023
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Traditionally, product packaging had one purpose: to protect the contents from damage and leaks, as well as exterior contamination and pollution. Over time, however, packaging such as coffee bags has evolved, and so have consumer expectations of it.

A growing number of customers are demanding more of their product packaging regarding both design and sustainability. More so, as competition increases within the specialty coffee sector, brands must ensure their coffee bags stand out. 

Simple yet impactful packaging changes can be a game changer when it comes to gaining new customers and maximising profits. Stickers on coffee bags, for instance, have become an increasingly popular way for specialty coffee roasters to gain mindshare and grow brand recognition. 

I spoke to Ben Nicholson, co-owner of Nelson Coffee Roasters in Eastbourne, UK, about why the brand uses customised stickers on its coffee bags.

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Why sound coffee packaging design is crucial 

Design plays a significant role in shaping people’s perceptions of what a brand has to offer.
Therefore, visual identity throughout brand design is a pivotal part of consumer memorability. How you choose to approach customers and represent your brand can help foster a sense of connection. 

Creating a strong relationship with the right-sided, creative brain of your target market can help you dig deeper into their expanded memory network. In time, customers will begin to recognise your brand identity through these subconscious factors.

For example, the use of colour has the potential to enhance brand recognition by as much as 80%. Research shows consumers tend to process, retain, and remember visual content to a far greater extent than shapes, numbers, and words. Furthermore, the creative appeal of attractive brand packaging has great potential to trigger impulsive buying for consumers who have no intention of making a purchase. 

Therefore, incorporating a logo, brand name, and company message in an attractive visual manner can contribute to heightened recognition and bolster your brand. As the specialty coffee industry expects a compound annual growth rate of 11.3% between now and 2030, there has never been a more crucial time to have your brand noticed. Furthermore, branding coffee bags not only enhances recognition but also fosters a further sense of overall trust in a brand.

Several specialty coffee brands are taking advantage of the flexible and affordable option of custom-printed stickers to enhance brand identity. 

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Why stickers on coffee bags are making a comeback

Using stickers on coffee bags can help brands convey important information that consumers may miss. They can be particularly useful for coffee roasters with multiple variations of the same product in different-sized bags or roast profiles. Using the same sticker design across takeaway cups, coffee subscription boxes, and coffee bags makes a brand instantly recognisable to the public.

“We favour stickers because they offer us tremendous flexibility,” Ben explains. “They’re not only convenient but also more cost-effective. Once we’ve invested in a graphic designer for our sticker template, we can easily edit it for each type of coffee. This is much more economical than hiring a designer for each revision.”

The stickers used on Nelson Coffee Roasters packaging feature essential information about the coffee and feature a bold stripe of colour along the top. This bold stripe is usually a contrasting colour compared to the blue of the brand’s coffee bags. 

Custom-printed stickers offer a convenient means for conveying information and images consistently across diverse media. Beyond this, they can be quite economical. Pre-printed stickers are typically available in relatively low minimum order quantities. Alternatively, specialty coffee roasters can choose to print them in-house using common consumer inkjet or thermal printers. 

This allows them to easily combine stickers with stock coffee bags and subscription boxes to create cost-effective, distinctive packaging for individual roasts. 

The low upfront cost and ease of production also make stickers easy add-ons for direct-ship orders and in-store giveaways. These ‘freebies’ often land on laptop and phone cases, car windows, notebooks, and a host of other personal advertising platforms, converting customers into promoters.

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What to consider when adding stickers to coffee bags

Focus on your brand uniquity

A growing number of consumers want to learn more about their favourite products and brands. Therefore, consider using stickers to promote your unique selling points and entice customers to try the product. For example, coffee roasters can use stickers to promote the fact they offer ethically traded organic beans, or use sustainable business practices. However, you must ensure there is a way for you to back up these statements.

Use colour

Appealing to the right side of the creative mind has remarkable benefits for brand association and consumer memory. Attractive colour schemes and finishes are a highly effective method for drawing attention to your products.

Whether it’s a vibrant, full-colour label incorporating imagery and high-gloss finishes to entice customers or a more discerning selection of colours for heightened impact, the choice of design can significantly enhance product appeal.

Opt for sustainable stickers

Despite their added value, stickers can be problematic for specialty coffee roasters and consumers concerned with sustainability. Andy Newbom, the cofounder of Torque Coffees, explains why. 

“The vast majority of coffee bag labels, and even shipping labels, are made using materials and processes that devastate the environment,” he says. “Most of the stickers are made with virgin paper and virgin plastic. Additionally, they’re often loaded with hidden plastics, petrochemicals, and other harsh chemicals, and are not themselves recyclable, compostable or reusable.”

That said, there are some more eco-friendly alternatives available. For instance:

Biodegradable stickers: These decompose via bacteria or other living organisms. The plant-based materials avoid plastic pollution. 

Compostable stickers: These comprise plant-based materials and can disintegrate into natural elements in a compost environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil. This happens in around 90 days. However, some compostable materials require industrial composting facilities and are not suitable for home composting. 

Recyclable stickers: These are suitable for processing that will make their materials reusable. They are often made of paper or plastic that can be recycled per local regulations.

At MTPak Coffee, we offer specialty coffee brands a range of 100% recyclable coffee packaging options that include compostable options. Our line of coffee packaging options is made from renewable materials, such as compostable kraft paper, and rice paper, as well as multilayer LDPE coffee bags with an environmentally friendly PLA lining, all of which minimise waste and contribute to a circular economy.

Furthermore, we are able to fully customise the size, shape, look, and feel of your labels and stickers to suit your specific business needs. Plus, we are able to custom-print coffee packaging using innovative digital printing technology, with a quick turnaround time of 40 hours and 24-hour shipping time. 

Images courtesy of Nelson Coffee Roasters

For more information on customised stickers for coffee bags, contact our team

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Holly Szakal
Holly Szakal

Holly Szakal is a Melbourne-based copy and content writer and is deeply immersed in her city's vibrant specialty coffee culture. She infuses the rich aromas of the specialty coffee scene by delivering compelling narratives on the industry's current events.

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