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Talenti Gelato's Clear Packaging Advantage

Talenti’s clear gelato containers are boosting its recognition
Talenti Gelato's Clear Packaging Advantage
Photograph by Aaron Dyer for Bloomberg Businessweek

Devin Liddell gets uncomfortable in the freezer aisle. A brand strategist at Teague, the Seattle-based design firm that came up with the Pringle’s can, Liddell says he gets overwhelmed by all the busy, brightly colored cardboard containers advertising bizarre flavors. “Most people associate ice cream with a calm, indulgent moment,” he says, but “its packaging is very often rowdy.” So when Liddell recently stumbled across a pint of Talenti Gelato’s Belgian milk chocolate gelato packaged in a clear plastic container, he had to buy it. “It is almost a kind of quiet branding,” he says. “It has a totally different, more confident posture that grabs your attention by saying less.”

Ten-year-old Talenti, based in Minneapolis, is a case study in how packaging can propel a small brand to the top. According to Nielsen data, Talenti is the best-selling gelato brand in the U.S. and third in the $290 million premium ice cream category, behind Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs. The gelato, which comes in 21 flavors, including Tahitian vanilla bean and southern butter pecan, sells for an average of $4.60 a pint —about 15 percent more than competitors. Since 2008, when Talenti was confined mostly to small outlets in the midwestern U.S., sales have jumped from $1 million to a projected $100 million for 2013. Talenti is now available at more than 30,000 stores nationwide, including Whole Foods Market and Wal-Mart Stores.