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New strategic package design for Elkin.

In August 1991, New Hampshire-based Elkin Coffee, makers of the Cafe du Jour brand, came to Lapham/Miller Associates with a broad assignment and an exciting new concept: develop fresh packaging for their signature blends and 13 new breakfast and dessert coffees, and use "time-of-day" as a marketing concept.

Cafe Du Jour is an upscale, gourmet coffee product which has been a leader in the specialty coffee market for years. Elkin's marketing objective for Cafe Du Jour is to broaden consumers' use of gourmet coffee. For several years, gourmet brands have been a growth area in the coffee industry. Sales now make up about 8% of the U.S. coffee market and are increasing about 15-20% annually. Elkin wanted to take advantage of this trend and, with the introduction of its new breakfast and dessert coffees, increase its market share.

Lapham/Miller Associates, a New London, New Hampshire-based marketing communications firm specializing in a strategic approach to package development, set out not only to develop an eye-catching package for Elkin's new products, but to help Elkin achieve its business and marketing objectives. Through a month-long, indepth familiarization process, the firm learned about Elkin's manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution systems, as well as their competition and retail marketplace. Lapham/Miller also took a hard look at traditional coffee packaging.

Armed with this information, we created a new packaging system that was designed not only to grab attention on the shelf, but also to reposition Cafe du Jour in the marketplace as a product on the cutting edge of the gourmet coffee market.

Starting with the "time-of-day" concept as the foundation, Lapham/Miller fashioned a whole new packaging system that segments Elkin's target market by time of consumption, as well as ground and whole beans. Creating more choices for the consumer helped stimulate additional demand.

To achieve this, Lapham/Miller opted to break away completely from traditional coffee packaging and instead introduced bold, primary colors and easy-to-read symbols - a radical departure from the browns, blacks and golds generally used. Breakfast coffee bags appear in sunshine yellow with a rising sun logo; after-dinner dessert coffees in evening blue bags with a half-moon and star logo. The signature blends - appropriate for enjoying any time of day - are packaged in rich mocha-toned bags.

The new packaging system further segments the Cafe du Jour line with borders on the bottom of each package that distinguish between ground coffee and whole bean, and bright red ties at the top of bags containing decaffeinated blends. The finishing touch on each bag is a tempting 2"x 2" hang tag that features mouth-watering photographs of the new flavors like raspberry chocolate truffle and banana hazelnut.

To unify the entire packaging system, Lapham/Miller also created a new logo that conveys a simple message about the Cafe du Jour brand. Featuring a stylized globe - a powerful translation of the Elkin universal selling proposition "For People Who Think the World of Coffee" - the logo incorporates both the breakfast and dessert coffee symbols in bright primary colors. Elkin now uses the logo on merchandising displays, delivery trucks, factory uniforms and all other Cafe Du Jour signage.

Used together, these package and design elements create a powerful, eye-catching display for Elkin on grocery store shelves. The new system also supplies a variety of levels of information to the consumer, addressing every possible demand - for ground or whole beans, morning or evening flavors and caffeinated or decaffeinated - thus helping clarify choices and increase purchases. By linking their effort directly to Elkin's marketing objectives, to increase market share and introduce the new products, Lapham/Miller was able to create an effective new package and marketing system that is not only an attention-getter but also a strong selling tool.

The results? The new product image was enthusiastically accepted by all associated with Cafe Du Jour's operation. The new package is helping Elkin gain increased distribution and shelf space in major supermarket chains in California and Florida. In addition, its introduction at the Food Marketing Institute show in Chicago last May received an excellent response - retailers who already stock Elkin coffee were eager to switch to the new packaging.

According to Mike Sullivan, president of Elkin Coffee, "The new package is successful because it helps differentiate Cafe du Jour from other gourmet coffees and increases demand by segmenting our target market. Its overwhelmingly positive reception at the FMI show clearly increased Elkin's leadership role in gourmet coffee."

Ultimately, coffee is basically a commodity product. But, with careful research and strategic planning, Elkin is on the path to translating its new look into a bigger slice of the gourmet coffee market.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Elkin Coffee Inc.'s marketing approach pays off
Author:Halgas, Cathy
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Aug 1, 1992
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