One of the bigger challenges — among the many I face as a product manager — is balancing the overwhelming need and variety of visual assets for a new product line, especially in a saturated market like coffee. It’s a process that’s even more complicated when retail and media deadlines loom much earlier than our product packaging can be ready.
I’ve learned that working with a multimedia creative studio helps me with the “A to Z” process in order to get visual assets when the need for speed to market moves faster than the time for perfection allows.
The bonus? The same creative partner helped me carry my coffee line launch from concept to maturity.
Phase I: Dynamic Collaboration and Speed to Market
After sharing my company’s vision of our new brand, we needed our agency to tell the story of Focus Coffee Roasters (FCR). I knew I needed to present multiple concepts to my executive team and get the green light to proceed with lightning speed, without stifling the creative process. With many different design iterations to gain approval on a final design, it can drastically impact time and budget constraints with little room to spare.
Because we’re wired as visual people, it’s difficult to visualize 3D packaging using only 2D design concepts. Having a visual studio that creates aspirational 3D packaging of our agency’s 2D concepts has enabled me to pitch my ideas more effectively. And, as long as the dielines don’t change, we can quickly and cost-effectively update new designs.
The benefits were reduced speed to market, while overcoming the typical roadblocks from internal marketing approval and small-scale testing with focus groups to pitching retailers and securing shelf space.
Bonus: CGI assets amortized the cost of my upfront investment in 3D photorealistic packaging for future needs.
Phase II: Product Launch That Doesn’t Kill My Budget and Team
After approvals from the executive team, market testing, and retail placements, we were ready to execute media plans and activate marketing materials. From the start, I knew I needed a large asset library quickly — stills, video, and those excruciatingly specific e-commerce versions — for mass reach. Yet, how could I do this while minimizing the impact on my capacity, resources, and budget?
BBK United, a design and packaging agency, in collaboration with KP Photo, a multimedia photo, video and CGI studio, developed a range of concepts for FCR. With these concepts came storyboards, style and lighting reference for my approval so I knew we’d avoid any inefficiencies in time and/or budget. Stylists sourced props and the studio captured shots, edited, and added graphics, voiceover and music to each video.
I chose a concept that was dynamic for both still imagery and motion. Because we utilized the same CGI packaging assets, it was incredibly cost-effective. By working ahead, KP Photo was able to quickly transform FCR’s previously created assets with only minor modifications quickly and at a marginal cost.
Phase III: Growth and the Fight for Consumer Relevance
While getting a new product line to market may be stressful, as brands, we have to fight to stay there. Sales increase as do competitors. The number of retailers increases as well as profits, while promotional spending and product costs increase, too. Because FCR had more retailers, one in particular asked for a differentiated product.
This product life cycle brought about a new set of challenges:
- Encouraging customer loyalty for FCR as a lifestyle brand, not just as a product.
- Supporting my growing number of distribution outlets (retailers), no matter how large.
- New strains on budget and team capacity as both the number of retailers and their requests increase.
To answer these challenges, our coffee marketing team created inspirationally relevant marketing campaigns, including engaging ads that leverage the FCR brand, still imagery, and animation with packaging. Because KP Photo managed my insane requests for different packaging shots, angles, and an environmental shot for FCR’s number one retailer, we maxed out assets and avoided extended timelines, expensive production, and variable costs.
Phase IV: Maturity and Market Responsiveness
As a mature brand, FCR sales started to level off, and finding new customers was becoming increasingly difficult. Competition was high in an era where the next new thing is the next hot thing.
I had to consider attracting new customers in new geographies, including international markets.
Additionally, cutting through the saturated coffee marketing clutter with new promotions and online communities required innovative thinking:
- We had to position FCR as more than a cup of joe with value-added and inspirational uses for coffee.
- It was also time for a line extension, exploring modified product packaging, size, flavors, features, and so forth.
Food stylists from KP Photo created new consumer recipes using chef-inspired coffee flavors from around the world that elevated FCR from being just a cup of caffeine to a savory morning experience in another country.
To activate the shopper marketing materials, KP Photo collaborated with BBK United to develop family coffee packaging modifications (using CGI) and create point-of-sale displays with visually dominant packaging and imagery. After all, it’s more than coffee or a line extension: It’s an activation of our consumer’s inspirational lifestyle that ultimately reinvigorated my brand.
And it’s a home run. Focus Coffee Roasters is still a huge hit at retail chains.
The Value of Good Creative Partners
My success as a product manager is intertwined with my creative partners, and I highly value those who can respond to my immediate needs while also anticipating future needs I’d never considered.
A healthy, dynamic partnership creates an easier and smarter approach to production, talent, still imagery, motion, and CGI. This includes dynamic assets that are easily adaptable for my unknown future needs, ultimately making me successful at my job and overcoming the challenges of product life cycles.
If you’re considering visual assets, choose a multimedia studio like KP Photo, a creative partner that sees beyond the task at hand, collaborates with like-minded creative partners, and offers value at every step along the way.
Note: Focus Coffee Roasters and this story is a fictitious representation based on true stories from actual KP Photo clients who represent national coffee brands.