Managing the Risks of a Packaging Change: Eight O’Clock Coffee

Posted on by Patty Odell

If you see a shopper standing around the coffee isle looking a bit confused, they may be searching for Eight O’Clock Coffee but not recognizing the new packaging.

That’s the risk the brand took when after 151 years it updated and modernized its iconic packaging.

“The risk is alienating those that are currently loyal to your brand at the expense of finding new customers,” said Scott Lucas, executive director of the package design group at Interbrand’s Cincinnati office. “Consumers are rooted in ritual and you have to make sure that the redesign allows those loyal customers to come with the brand.”

The plan began with two priorities: a design that loyal customers (older) would be able to relate to, and a fresh, up-to-date look to attract new (younger) customers.

To tackle the first challenge, brand marketers carried over a number of key equities, including a logo with the same classic feel and color-coding for the different coffee varieties, the dominate black and red colors, as well as other easily recognizable design elements and prominent messaging to provide comfort to loyal customers.

“The words ‘New Look Same Great Taste’ was a good idea,” Lucas said. “If you have a consumer that pauses at retail and picks up the package that reassures them that the package is different but the product is the same.”

As for the second challenge, attracting a new, younger consumer, the look is contemporary, bold, crisp and refreshing.

To develop design concepts, Eight O’Clock went to its customers for extensive input using sweepstakes as one method. In 2009, it ran a sweeps asking visitors to vote on two new package designs—a black bag featuring a coffee cup or a white bag with coffee beans—for a chance to win a year's worth of groceries valued at $5,000. Another sweeps last year coincided with the brand’s 150th birthday where people again voted for one of two bag designs.

One method to introduce the new packaging—which began rolling into stores last week—is a game where fans can try to match the old packaging with the new within a certain time frame. The game, at the Eight O’Clock Coffee Facebook page, includes daily prizes of free coffee and eight grand prizes of free coffee for a year.

The brand has been exploring the use of Facebook for more than a year as a means to grow its fan base and sales. In June, it ran a program asking fans to tell their own stories about why they love Eight O’Clock coffee. Some fans were asked if their images and quotes could be used throughout an advertising campaign that included radio and rich media ads.

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