Malley’s Chocolates — Merchandising with Digitally Printed Custom Packaging at the Republican National Convention

by Tap Marketing February 13, 2017

Summer 2016 was tremendous for Northeast Ohio — the Cleveland Cavaliers won an NBA Championship and the city hosted the RNC (Republican National Convention). While the NBA win was a surprise, the RNC had been strategically thought out for months.

When Northeast Ohio businesses heard that this once-in-a-lifetime major merchandising opportunity was coming to them, they were ready to seize the day. Owner of Cleveland icon Malley’s Chocolates, Mike Malley, called up its nationally renown packaging manufacturer Tap Packaging Solutions to leverage this fleeting target marketing job.

“Two things that were used in these particular designs were the Cleveland skyline and political buttons,” says Rick Bender, Senior Marketer at Tap Packaging. “We were trying to make some collectable memorabilia that included a Cleveland reference. The letters CLE have become a popular reference to Cleveland. We emphasized that by incorporating CLE into the year 2016 — 20CLE16 in red and blue.”

I started to research who might have a collection of political buttons that I could photograph for the design,” Bender says. “Ralph String had a large collection of buttons he had started collecting at 8 years old that went back to 1828. He donated his collection to the City Club of Cleveland. This gave me more than enough to cover the box in buttons; I actually found a Trump button from 2000 that is located on the left front.”

TPS (Tap Packaging Solutions): Why did you decide to invest in personalized packaging for this event?

MM (Mike Malley): With this being a political event, we just wanted to show some civic pride and get in with the fun. Working with the RNC, we were able to be on the vendor list that was distributed to all of the delegates who were coming to Cleveland and looking for RNC-themed gifts. We actually had a booth in the “RNC Marketplace,” which was inside of Progressive Field. We were inside of the perimeter, which dealt with the iconic brands. That positioning gave us some leverage where we got our name on a lot of lists sent to delegates.

TPS: How were the sales results?

MM: We sold several thousands of packages. It gave us something to sell extra in what is typically a very slow confection sales time in July. It gave us some traffic in the stores; it made the store festive with red, white, and blue. It helped our sales for the month of July, no question about it!

I would say the margins were better than 50% — much higher than our everyday items. We were able to charge a premium for these uniquely packaged items. We generated about 2,500 transactions with these special boxes, and we picked up about 1,000 additional store visits.

TPS: Did your special boxes generate any media coverage?

MM: We got a lot of media hits. We were on the local TV stations, Channel 19, and the local NBC affiliate Channel 3. I believe we got coverage on the eve of the RNC opening. And we had people come to our stores to take pictures and samples back to their offices. The Plain Dealer picked up on us as a “local Cleveland chocolatier.”

TPS: What did you learn from this experience?

MM: Those RNC-themed sleeves gave us the idea that in the future we’re able to take every day, existing products, and just repackage them.

For example: when the promotion is over or the themed sale is over, all we have to do is change the actual packaging, and we still have candy that we could keep in inventory. I see opportunities for everyday seasonal promotional things. You could create a bunch of sleeves for everyday candy for seasonal promotions, rather than come up with some new chocolate.

What it really boils down to is merchandising. These sleeves gave us a great new idea on how to merchandise our candies with packaging. Even if I get too many, I’m not scrapping candy; you can always use sleeves again.



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