The specialty coffee market is fiercely competitive, with new businesses entering all the time. For existing roasters it can be a challenge just to stay afloat, while new ones often find it difficult to get things off the ground and make themselves heard.
However, one tactic that’s being increasingly adopted to steal mindshare, pique consumer interest, and stay ahead of the competition is seasonal coffee packaging.
Defined as limited edition packaging associated with seasons or holidays, seasonal packaging helps create a sense of excitement around products, while pushing a brand to the forefront of consumers’ minds.
In the coffee industry, leading brands such as Starbucks, Costa, and Nescafé are well known for their seasonal packaging, which has become something of an annual talking point among customers. However, having seen the benefits, more and more specialty coffee roasters have begun to follow suit.
But what’s the secret behind the perfect seasonal packaging? And should all specialty coffee roasters look to launch their own?
What is seasonal packaging?
Around certain times of the year, the packaging of many products temporarily changes. Branding and designs with which we’ve become so familiar we barely notice them, suddenly undergo a drastic transformation that catches the eye and causes widespread excitement.
For a limited time, occasions such as Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day are marked with a combination of colours, typography, and images that deviate from the company’s normal year-round branding.
This is what’s known as “seasonal packaging” and can be found in virtually every product-driven industry, from chocolate to beer.
While its most common appearance is during popular holiday seasons such as Christmas, Easter, New Year, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day, there is no limit to when a brand decides to implement the changes.
In fact, many brands will often adopt seasonal packaging to celebrate milestones in their own stories. For example, Starbucks released its “Anniversary Blend” coffee packaging in 2020 to mark the company’s 50th anniversary.
Although seasonal packaging can be used to contain the same year-round products, it’s frequently launched in line with a limited edition range. In the coffee sector, this could be a micro lot coffee, a collaboration, or a coffee that’s undergone an unusual processing method, such as carbon maceration.
What are the benefits of seasonal packaging for coffee businesses?
It may seem as though the adoption of seasonal packaging is just a nice way of celebrating different events in the year – but in the majority of cases, it carries important marketing benefits for brands.
To keep ahead of the competition, coffee businesses need to stay relevant and put themselves at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
However, even if your coffee is high-quality and your branding is attractive, consumers will always be on the lookout for the “next best thing”.
And this attitude is only increasing with the younger generations: a recent survey revealed as little as 7% of millennials identify themselves as brand loyalists.
Seasonal coffee bags are an effective way for coffee businesses to steal mindshare off competitors and generate excitement among consumers. It gives brands extra publicity and prevents products from becoming overly familiar or “stale”.
“[Starbucks’ Christmas] coffee packaging is always like these little jewels that show up in the store that cue the holidays,” said Jeff Wilkson, creative director for Starbucks in a post on their website.
Inherent to humans is the idea that if something is scarce, it must be worth having. Scarcity creates an illusion of value, making homogenous products seem more desirable.
Therefore, when coffee businesses launch a range of coffee in limited edition seasonal packaging, it helps create a buzz around the products, which inevitably leads to higher sales.
For example, each year Taylors of Harrogate releases its limited edition “Christmas Blend”, complete with its own distinct packaging. Typically designed in a luxurious style, such as using black and gold lettering, it prompts consumers to buy from the range before it sells out.
Trial new products
New types of coffee appear all the time for a number of reasons, from experimental processing methods to innovative growing techniques. For roasters, the beans are often significantly different from their traditional line of products, which means they need to be marketed differently.
However, as customers may be unsure about trying something they’ve never heard of, an effective way of launching them is under the guise of seasonal packaging. For example, JB Coffee Roasters created a Halloween coffee blend, which has hints of pumpkin pie, coffee blossom, and orange.
Without the context of Halloween, this might be off putting for the majority of coffee consumers. But thanks to the use of seasonal packaging, it allowed JB to try out their unconventional coffee to great success.
Tips for designing seasonal coffee bags
When done right, seasonal packaging can be a big hit with consumers, while also helping to boost a brand’s reputation, increase sales, and stay ahead of competitors. However, there are a few things to consider before launching your own seasonal coffee bags.
First, it’s important to ensure that the packaging stands out without confusing customers. This can happen when a limited edition design is so far removed from the normal branding that people struggle to identify which company is selling the coffee.
If you have any logos or specific typography, it’s a good idea to ensure this is made clear on any seasonal packaging design you create. Consistent branding across all products, whether limited edition or permanent is an important part of maintaining a strong brand identity.
Nescafé Azera made sure to do this with their Christmas blend. They claim to have played around with several colour variations to be able to include their Nescafé Azera orange colour, before landing on a night time design.
It’s also important to decide whether you will make the coffee match the season or event you plan to celebrate. When the coffee’s characteristics and the packaging come together to highlight a particular time of year, it can help boost its appeal for consumers.
While Christmas and Halloween are obvious candidates, Valentine’s Day also offers a good opportunity. Last year, for example, Go Get Em Tiger launched an all-Colombia blend for Valentine’s Day with “overt sweetheart candy and tropical papaya flavours merged with delicate florals like orange blossom.”
Seasonal coffee bags are a highly effective way for specialty roasters to gain mindshare, stay ahead of competitors, and stir excitement among consumers. However, it’s important that designs are not only eye-catching, but also consistent with the roaster’s normal branding so as not to confuse.
At MTPak Coffee, we can help you design the perfect seasonal packaging for your coffee, all the way from concept to delivery. Our team of expert designers will guide you through the process, ensuring your coffee bags stand out on the shelf, attract attention, and adhere to your unique style.
All our sustainable options can be fully customised to your needs, including additional components such as recyclable degassing valves and resealable zippers.
For information about our sustainable coffee bags, contact our team.