Case Study: UliMana (Asheville, NC)

by Tap Marketing May 16, 2017

ulimana product lineUliMana (pronounced “ooli-mana”) is a trailblazing raw chocolatier from Asheville, North Carolina, that found its niche in an unlikely hybrid of confection and health food markets. According to owner Tonya BennertUliMana is famous for making and marketing the first ever raw, organic, vegan, soy-free, and gluten-free chocolate truffles.

With this specialty food, Bennert knew that UliMana’s truffle packaging design for their target markets in wholesale distribution and online retail e-commerce needed to both distinguish UliMana on the shelf and tout its delicious reputable qualities. Recently, UliMana underwent a re-branding endeavor to expand their reach even further, and called on Tap to create 11 unique digitally printed versions of UliMana truffle packaging for all of their flavors.

TPS (Tap Packaging Solutions): Where did UliMana originate?

TB (Tonya Bennert): UliMana was created back in 2005, when raw food was a health food craze and people were excited about eating raw. Through experimentation, the truffles were created and they were amazing. At that time being the only one out there made UliMana very popular, so it got a lot of attention. And it’s really been able to thrive over the years since the truffles have so many wonderful attributes: all ingredients are certified organic, soy-free, gluten-free, fair trade, non-GMO — it hits everything. All of those things or at least one of those things is important to someone these days, and it’s a chocolate that everyone can enjoy no matter what your food allergies or preferences. And it tastes really great.

TPS: Why truffles, opposed to chocolate bars or other assortments?

TB: There are so many opportunities for chocolate truffles. People contact me for weddings, or sometimes they order in bulk. I have a customer with two spas — one NY and one in LA, and they put UliMana truffles in a big bowl for their customers. They’re a very expensive spa! My truffles are there for the customers to enjoy. We also have hotels that may put them in suites for bridal showers or wedding parties, or put them in the bride and groom’s suite. It’s just part of the spa buzz. They use them as favors for spa retreats for the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons. They were also at the World Science Festival in NYC. Requests come from all over for really different cool reasons. We create a really nice following.

ulimana cherry goji truffleUliMana Goji Cherry Truffle

TPS: Why did you choose to brand your company with the name “UliMana?”

TB: “Uli” is Polynesian. It means“goddess of serenity” in Polynesianculture, and “Mana” is a term for “nutrient” or “nutrition.” Our chocolate, being that it’s raw chocolate, is one of the healthiest things you can put in your body. It’s the highest form of magnesium of anything you can eat, it’s amazing for your heart, and it’s very good for your memory, circulation, and skin. So it has wonderful nutritional properties and gives you that wonderful strength feeling that everyone craves in chocolate, releasing chemicals in your brain.

For people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the raw cacao makes them feel like they’re able to think more clearly while and sometimes they’re eating it. UliMana also gets calls for people going through radiation. The doctors tell their patients to eat raw chocolate after radiation, because it helps to fight off cancer cells.

TPS: Do you think that UliMana’s new truffle packaging reflects your brand identity and uses smart marketing?

TB: We re-branded. That’s what this whole packaging shift was about — getting more brand identityout there. Our truffle packaging formerly was a little too costly for us, and we weren’t able to get the margins that we wanted. This new truffle packaging and re-branding was an opportunity to make it more cost efficient and make it simpler for production. For example, formerly we had two different sizes, and now we only have one size. This makes it much easier for our production team, and it’s easier for the retailers to sell one size. We’re just focusing on getting our name out there more, as our product is already known.

We picked 11 vibrant, fabulous colors that Tap Packaging printed digitally on their HP Indigo 30000 digital press. I’m really glad that Tap enjoyed manufacturing our new re-branded truffle packaging. This re-branding is really going to help the truffle packaging “pop” on the shelf. Most chocolate is packaged in darker colors or earth tones, but I wanted something tall, thin and white, because our product is so clean. However I wanted a “pop” of color to make it come alive. I worked really hard on the messaging, and I think we did a great job.

ulimana chocolatiers crew outdoorsThe UliMana Chocolatiers

TPS: How do you see your truffle packaging strategy evolving in the future?

TB: I just got them. We want to get these out in the stores first hand and see what happens! There’s always evolution, so everything you do, you learn from it. I want to learn the good parts of the packaging, and we’ll build on that. The customers and retailers give me the best feedback. We’ll see how the sales go.

TPS: When did you begin to partner with Tap Packaging Solutions?

TB: I was calling around at different packaging companies and trying to find ones that focused more on food packaging. I liked the name because it reminded me of beer — like a beer tap! I like that. The employees who operate your HP Indigo 30000 digital press are fantastic. I’m very proud of my new packaging manufactured by Tap.

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