Packaging is just as important as the contents inside and it becomes even more relevant when the product in context is food. Food packaging continues to evolve with each technological and scientific stride. Businesses can leverage these innovations to create brand value, ensure food safety, deliver on quality, and increase sales. In this Insight piece we share the interesting journey of Atta Girl – An artisanal batter brand founded by a homemaker which evolved into a household brand through product innovation, packaging considerations and the innovative use of digital printing technology. Digital Printing technology not only created an innovative pack for the consumer but also led to the rise in brand value and sales for Atta Girl.

The Journey

The journey of Atta Girl started when a stay-at-home mom decided to turn her love for healthy eating into a healthy business. She knew early on that she didn’t want to be another health food brand offering the same variations as others in new packaging. After experimenting with different grains, millets, and veggies for over two years, Atta Girl decided it was time to take her first launch to its testing ground. To her surprise, she was sold out on the first day itself. Starting with just three variations, she knew she had to come up with a name quickly. Thus, the first name- “Batter It”, was born.
The increase in Atta Girl’s customer base and fan following grows by the day seeping into every Mumbai household. The Atta Girl, as the owner fondly calls herself, realized that Batter It just didn’t do it anymore. Thereby, re-christening the brand as we know it today- Atta Girl. Atta Girl today offers seven batter variations, three chutneys, and one typical South-Indian filter coffee decoction. It all started with a dream from the Atta Girl’s kitchen.

Challenges Faced

Durability
Atta Girl, first launched as Batter It, started their journey by using plastic packaging only to realize that it was extremely impractical. Also, in terms of quality, since it was plastic, it decreased the shelf life even further for a product that anyway had a limited shelf life.

Spillage
Using plastic, the batter would always splatter and move in the pouches making it visible to anyone who saw it in the stores. This gave a very shabby look to the overall display of the product.

Branding through packaging
When Atta Girl started getting more recognition in terms of taste, the founder decided it was time to scale, and with that came the major task of focusing on the packaging. It is true what they say about marketing what you see is what sells. Branding through packaging can make or break a product and the team at Atta Girl realized that. How a product looks speaks volumes about its quality and given that the food business is fiercely competitive, Atta Girl knew that they had to make significant strides in order to fulfill that task.

Product friendly packaging
Atta Girl hit their first obstruction when they realized that packaging for batter was not an easy task. This was because batter keeps fermenting on its own even when its packaged and needed significant headspace. Atta Girl knew one thing- whatever the packaging, the name Atta Girl had to be clearly visible for all to see.

Sustainability
The first packaging used was flimsy plastic which considerably reduced the shelf life of the product. Given the already limited shelf life of the batter, the lifecycle of the packaging is also short. It goes into dump once the batter has been used and could harm the environment. Therefore, sustainable packaging was recognized as the need of the hour.

Solutions Offered

Sitting in their designer’s office, Atta Girl came across another brand’s five-panel pouch which was designed by Huhtamaki. The five-panel pouch offers multi-fold benefits and functionality.

Branding
The first and foremost are the five panels that aid in creating impactful branding thus addressing the issue of brand enhancement.

User experience
It consists of a pull-tab zipper that offers novel tear initiation along with easy reclose for multi-use. Apart from that, the move to Digital printing by Huhtamaki enabled them to better service the ask of Atta Girl and their numerous other clients.

No more challenges in short run
Digital printing does not require printing plates and directly prints the image on any media substrate thereby eliminating the age-old condition of placing a minimum order quantity. The ease of placing orders for just the required number of pouches ensured that Atta Girl didn’t end up investing in just packaging and blocking funds.

Reduced costs
Digital printing has dramatically reduced the initiation and set up costs that are associated with analog print methods. Analog printing has a more tedious pre-print and post-print process. With print technology evolving rapidly, analog printing is slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past.

Sustainable packaging
Digital printing is print-on-demand. This helped a start-up brand like Atta Girl get a similar premium look and feel on the packaging as any other established brand. Without a commitment to a MOQ, brands now have the freedom of market testing with multiple versions of packaging which enables them to sell at higher margins with more revenue. Without wastage on packaging inventory, brands have a significantly reduced impact on the environment.

Implementation and Results

The HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press offers unparalleled color capabilities reaching up to 97% of PANTONE® colors thereby delivering endless possibilities for growth. Huhtamaki devised seven different packaging solutions for Atta Girl using the HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press which is equipped with the HP Indigo LEP Technology—the future of print production. Of the seven, two migrated to cylinder printing wherein Atta Girl can now order them in bulk quantity. Packaging solutions for the remaining five SKUs are still being developed in the digital format. Once Atta Girl shifted to digital printing packaging solutions, it allowed them to not only become premium but also achieve scale.

Atta Girl

More brand visibility
Atta Girl saw immediate results with customers sending messages to the founder complimenting her on the design, look, and feel of the packaging. The visual feedback received by Atta Girl has been amazing, lifting Atta Girl’s brand value many times over. Comparing the previous packaging to the current one, Atta Girl has a strong sense of brand connect with the latter.

Increased sales
Sales for Atta Girl increased considerably after the product was launched with the new packaging. Stores stocking the brand gave increased front shelf space for their products due to their vibrant packaging. Atta Girl reported an increase of 3X in their sales post the new packaging.
Enhanced product durability
Packaging has a vital role to play in containing and protecting food as it moves through the supply chain to the consumer. The five-panel pouch reduced spillage and leakage during transport and storage. Product protection needs to be the primary goal for packaging and Huhtamaki delivered the same to Atta Girl.

Key learnings
F&B start ups can leverage digital printing technology offered by HP to develop customized packs depending on the markets they serve. Mass personalization & design innovations can be a brand differentiator in the intensely competitive & fast growing market.

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About the author

Dr R Rangaprasad

Dr.R.Rangaprasad is a polymer & packaging professional with over 25 years experience. He has served as Consultant at Indian Institute of Packaging Mumbai & as Director at SIES School of Packaging / Packaging Technology Centre. Between 1995 & 2007, He was associated with Product Application & Research Center of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). He has also conducted training & knowledge workshops at leading FMCG companies in the area of design of polyolefin materials for packaging sector.

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