Coffee Package Photography
“More than any other medium, packaging speaks to consumers in the moment and differentiates brands from the competition.” – Vermilion.com
Purpose of the coffee bag
A coffee bag, like most retail packaging, has three functions:
- to store,
- to transport, and
- to sell more coffee.
Well designed packaging is one of the best ways to grab a consumer’s attention in the brick and mortar environment, so designers use all their tools to create exceptional packaging. A successful package evokes desire at the decisive moment in the purchasing process. For this to happen, the package has to be seen, it has to intrigue, and it has to foster a sense of longing.
Why, then, don’t many businesses carry this wisdom into the online environment? After investing in evocative packaging, online retailers, including coffee roasters, throw their goods on a counter, snap a photo with their phone, and call it a day. Money is being left on the table, and from some high-margin customers!
Subscription / online retail
High margins for businesses like coffee roasters, are found in online sales. When you can sell direct to consumer, you’re margins can be multiples of what you might be able to make through wholesale. And consider the subscriber who signs up for an annual plan of two bags per month; if they pay for shipping that single subscriber may be worth over $300 in the next 12 months… at great margins.
The product photography on your website needs to be supercharged to make that $300+ commitment as easy as possible; your consumer should be EXCITED to partner with you for their morning coffee. They should be relieved that they don’t have to think about coffee for the next 12 months, and energized to be a part of a brand that knows them and creates the lifestyle they aspire to have for themselves.
NEW RULE: Use product photography that is as compelling as your packaging
Your product photography should not dampen the desire your package evokes, so let’s talk about how to keep it alive.
In almost all cases
Product photography has one purpose: to sell your product.
From the ubiquitous product on a white background to six figure product shoots for the world’s biggest brands, the images need to make your customers think “I want that” and feel “This product will make my life better.” To pretend that photography aspires to do anything more or less, is to deny reality.
The purpose of coffee bag photography, therefore, is simply to sell bags of coffee. It is the online or print equivalent of the coffee bag packaging on the retail shelf. It needs to grab attention, create interest, and motivate the sale.
Coffee bag photography should be cohesive with the rest of your coffee brand. There are a number of ways to approach photographing your bags, each has a different cost but can be implemented successfully and either evoke stronger desire, or allow your bag to do what it is designed to do.
The Standard – Coffee bag against white background
Because of Amazon, you may think that white backgrounds are over-done, but I’d argue the contrary. White background photography offer advantages to small and growing businesses that other expressions of product photography cannot:
– It’s extremely affordable
– It’s easily repeatable
– A white background does NOT mean boring
– It allows your package design to speak for itself.
When executed properly – think crisp, clean, vibrant, dimensional imagery – photographs of your coffee bag against a white background will add credibility to your business. White background imagery is also a reliable go-to for companies wanting to control costs and maintain repeatable quality over time and across product lines.
Upgraded Standard – Coffee bag on a simple set
Coffee brands with a tightly controlled aesthetic or focused target market (lifestyle) should use a simple set for their product photography.
Simple sets are backgrounds and table tops that are more relevant to your aesthetic or market than a pure white background. The quality of product photography and advantages are comparable to a white background, but the custom background and table top provide an aesthetic indicator that supports your brand and communicates relevance to your market.
Simple sets offer the following benefits:
– Still very affordable
– Easily repeatable
– Supports package design and brand aesthetic
Below are few examples of simple sets:
A coffee roaster that supports organic and renewable practices might elect to photograph their coffee bags on a set made from reclaimed or sustainably sourced wood. The wood color and texture subtly communicate natural and renewable.
A coffee roaster with an urban street aesthetic, on the other hand, might want to photograph their products on a set comprised of concrete and bricks, and / or maybe a skateboard; materials commonly found in the urban environment.
Set materials and colors, just like package design, can help your customer subconsciously determine whether or not your coffee is relevant to them.
The goal is to be relevant to your audience, so these design decisions need to be made with intentionality.
The Premium Option – Custom Photography
Custom product photography is the most powerful way to create desire for your bags of coffee. It gives you the flexibility and space to tell a story for each product. Custom product photography is the stuff advertisements are made of: a scene is meticulously crafted to tell the aspirational story in which your product plays a pivotal role. It invites your audience into a perfect moment, then empowers them to take that moment home by purchasing your product.
Does your Costa Rican bean have a bright, clean flavor that is perfect for a morning cup? Create a tranquil, rich, glowing morning scene that is as bright, and serene as the coffee you’re selling.
Custom product photography is the most expensive option but can emote far more powerfully than any other. If you need a perfect image to sell large volumes of a single coffee origin and roast, this is the best option for you.
Coffee roasters devote significant time and resources to designing their coffee bags, but stop short of carrying that intent into their online retail properties. Ignoring online retail imagery is equivalent to ignoring package design in a retail environment – you’re not talking to the consumer at the moment the purchase decision is made.
Empower your audience to purchase confidently by upgrading your coffee bag photography. Well crafted product photography will establish brand credibility, create brand cohesion, communicate relevance, and most importantly, evoke desire from you customer.