Gin and Tonic Shortbread 2021

Derrick Lin


Manufacturer: Iconic Biscuits Ltd.
Location: United Kingdom
Project Type: Produced
Product Launch Location: Global
Packaging Contents: Gin and Tonic Iced Shortbread
Packaging Substrate / Materials: FSC Card
Printing Process: Digital printing

Each year I aim to bring out a new flavour, so in early 2021 I worked with a Gin and Tonic manufacturer, Symphonia Gin, to produce a G&T iced shortbread for the summer and to coincide with the opening of their new distillery tours. The packaging design would have to stand out while strongly reflecting Northern Ireland, the key purchasing decision for tourists. It would also have to fit a range of product flavours, with design adaptations for each flavour, but a consistent theme.

At the end of Q1 I was ready to work on the packaging but was let down by my packaging supplier and discovered Covid delays meant any new supplier couldn’t deliver for 3-6 months. They also weren’t interested in anything innovative. Pinterest is full of incredible designs and beautiful, functional, hexagonal boxes but the manufacturers turned them down if it meant any manual labour. To keep the eco-friendly credentials I advocate for, I couldn’t have boxes made in Asia due to the added carbon footprint of shipping.

I started to look at print on demand packaging through local online print suppliers and discovered keyline drawings ready for download. With a small reconfiguration of my internal bagging, I could produce the G&T biscuits to suit a hexagonal box, ideal for representing Northern Ireland and it’s best known tourist attraction, the Giant’s Causeway.

I designed a variety of boxes and colour schemes before settling on this design and testing it with the target market through social media and sampling. The online printing process options allowed me to really play with the design in my own time, which had positive and negative outcomes. The key advantage was the lead time was only 4-6 weeks for printing.

With the design finalised I uploaded it to the website and the boxes arrived in 5 weeks, giving me a summer launch and providing biscuits for the opening of the distillery. It has since been picked up by other retail buyers and I’m rolling it out across all my flavours. The low volume costs are considerably higher than the traditional print suppliers, but the flexibility and lead times allow me to be completely flexible to market conditions. It also allows me to do test runs of new designs through my own website and with retailers. Christmas will now be particularly exciting, as I can produce small runs of Christmas themed packaging based on modifications to the year round design.

There are no other competing products on the market which directly advertise Northern Ireland. Products sold in Ireland and Northern Ireland are sold as “Made in Ireland”. This differentiation gives tourists visiting both Ireland and Northern Ireland, a unique gift option when they cross the border.

While the hexagonal shape of the box isn’t unique, I found many packaging suppliers won’t produce it to due to complexities of cutting. Having six panels instead of four allowed me to really play with the design. I could fit the key messages on the front and legals on the back with ease and then add my story and still have three panels left. With the extra space I had my ingredients and nutritionals translated into Spanish and German, increasing the appeal to tourists.

I then used the remaining two panels to expand on the origins of the ingredients and add social links with channel specific QR codes, making it easier for buyers to connect with my brand.