Digital case study: Imperial Teas

How Alexir Digital helped the Imperial Teas brand using digital print technologies

Will you have some tea at the theatre with me?

Many fledgling tea brands would have packaged their blends in a plastic, see-through bag and attached a label to identify the product and satisfy legal requirements. This is a reasonable assumption to make given the (rather) large minimum order requirements from carton manufacturers who are more used to printing thousands of cartons. High set-up costs of machinery and production speeds dictate that the smaller challenger brands are not necessarily catered for in the carton industry. Hence the often cottage-style, kitsch look that is favoured by many.

Not so for Ben Poole from Imperial Teas.

With a background in theatrical design and a quest to find the perfect blend for each and every customer, Ben wanted his packaging to perform at a much higher level and on the wider stage of e-commerce. This vivacious brand owner, quite rightly, aspired to compete with the blue-chip players especially as he was convinced that brand packaging is a sub-conscious trigger for consumer purchase, playing a vital role in the final selection. In fact his vision for the shelves of the Imperial Tea shop in Lincoln (founded in 1991) extended to a multitude of cartons and flavours, with a greater awareness of light and colour, much like an Impressionist painting. The outcome of this visualisation, in tandem with the pursuit of the perfect blend, led Ben to create more than 300 tea blends and over 50 coffee styles. A real conundrum for the brand owner and modern-day carton manufacturer, given the aforesaid restrictions of lithographic carton production. Not so for this intrepid blender! Ben had heard mention of a new digital printing technology that was suitable for much lower volumes of carton production. A fruitful search on the internet, a website enquiry later and Ben was in contact with our (very French) Digital Sales Manager, Cyril. It became clear to both parties that Alexir Digital was well-suited to the task and the mammoth artwork project began.

Ben Poole said...

“My background is in theatre design so let’s just say my Illustrator skills were in need of some improvement. I did, however, have a very clear idea of what I wanted to achieve so working closely with Alexir and their Digital Repro department I was able to turn my vision into a reality. I have learnt a great deal about packaging design and the artwork process and feel like I am now an integral player in this project.”

A real game-changer.

The main production run was scheduled for the beginning of September and pre-production carton trials have already seen an uplift in sales of this pack format. The flexibility of the lower production runs have also allowed Ben to experiment with many different taste combinations to ‘almost’ create a bespoke flavour for every customer. This is a real game-changer for the smaller players in the market as trialling and new flavour combinations keep them one step ahead of their bigger competitors.

Ben continued...

“In many ways digital carton printing has allowed me (as a smaller brand owner) to stand confidently aside the big brands but similarly have the flexibility and innovation that their production sites would never have.”

In the words of the Who…..’will you have some tea at the theatre with me?’ certainly resonate with this story. Furthermore, if you met Ben you might even mistake him for the rock legend that is Pete Townshend!


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