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U.K. tea companies employing marketing ploys to secure brand share.

U.K. tea companies employing marketing ploys to secure brand share

As a race, the British were recognized as tea drinkers ... consuming copious cuppas morning, noon and night. in recent times some changes have taken place as coffee drinking has steadily nudged tea out of top billing on the popular drinks stages.

In 1970, four cups of tea were consumed against each cup of coffee, as compared, in 1989, with two of tea for one of coffee ... something of a downturn.

In 1976, sales of tea were 205 million pounds against coffee sales of 183 million pounds, but in 1988, coffee overtook tea by 39 million pounds. The latest survey indicates a differential of 28 million pounds in favor of the interloper. At 614 million pounds, consumers spent more on coffee than on tea for the fourth year in succession. The future doesn't look too rosy either. Trends by age indicate that the tea drinking stalwarts are in the upper age limits--45 - 65 age group taking 2.4 cups to 1.0 of coffee, whilst 16 - 24's consume 1.5 cups of tea to 1.0 of coffee.

Taking survey results such as these (produced by National Drinks Survey), it seems that time is against tea as the most committed imbibers submit to natural wastage and up and coming generations continue with a coffee drinking habit formed in the 80's. However, the 1990's are here now, the young are ever susceptible to innovation, and the tea companies are not about to wait around and watch their sales disappear for want of a little inventiveness. And there are opportunities...

Running alongside the coffee and tea drinking contest is the younger generation's ever-increasing interest in green issues. Health consciousness has somehow become linked with ecological concerns and, between the two, there are avenues to explore that should have a beneficial effect on the sales of products that offer something that is either healthful or green (or both).

On the question of innovation, packaging of one form or another is a well recognized way of presenting a product's USP (unique selling point) visually and graphically. Surely the introduction of tea in teabags must be one of the most visually strong packaging innovations ever to hit the beverages market. The idea then was to sell convenience against tradition, and this it did with resounding success...

Teabags have shown a marked increases against loos teas--increase from 54.1 to 80.9 in terms of volume cuppage between 1980 and 1989. Real tea connoisseurs insist that only when loose tea is brewed does the beverage do justice to the blend. Specialist tea suppliers report resurgence of interest in this market sector. In spite of capitalizing on its convenience, instant tea has not achieved the same acceptance as instant coffee--standing still at 0.8 vc over the same period (1980-1089).

To return to the theme of repackaging, some compnies are putting their faith in a re-appraisal of the teabag formula; Lyons Tetley claim a 26% increase in sales since the launch of their round teabags last summer. The company attributes the success of the launch in the main to the fact that, as well

as being more visually appealing, the round tea bag fits better into round pots and cups. The shape, they state, is better for water infusion and so makes a better brew.

A better brew is also claimed by Matthew Algie for their Chairman's Choice. These teabags are twice the size of other two-cup bags which, the company claims, allows more water to get in and circulate through the tea leaves.

Others are promoting on freshness. Premier Brands have repackaged their Typhoo tea, describing the product development as "the biggest innovation in the tea market since the launch of the teabag over 35 years ago." As a result of a research and development program, Typhoo teabags are now sealed in airtight foil bags, each containing 40 teabags, the old style packaging, lightweight cardboard and cellophane having been replaced with a sturdier upright carton with a tear-open strip. The new carton stacks securely, and the foil keeps the teabags in good condition.

Taking the foil idea a stage further, the Nairobi Coffee & Tea Co. Ltd. now package every individual tagged teabag in its own sealed foil outer envelope, presenting these in 25's in a window carton which is sealed again with cellophane.

These sealed foil envelopes are also employed to maintain the freshness of Matthew Algie's Golden Tip and Taylor's Yorkshire Gold. That this packaging increases the shelf life of the tea cannot be denied, but its effect on sales will probably devolve on the innovative packaging.

Selling on healthy issues, the first and most obvious route is the removal of caffeine, but for some reason this hasn't achieved the acceptance with the public that decaffeinated coffee is enjoying.

Lyons Tetley recently introduced low caffeine and decaffeinated tagged teabags. Twinings have chosen to launch their most popular specialty blend. Earl Grey, in a decaffeinated pack alongside the traditional pack. Twinings say that the market for decaffeinated tea products has grown significantly primarily due to the launch of new decaffeinated products in the quality tea sector. Product manager, Amanda Fallows says, "The time is right to launch a decaffeinated specialty tea. Our consumers are the very people who are concerned about health issues, but up until now have not had the opportunity to buy a specialty decaffeinated tea of high quality which maintained good taste and flavor."

Specialty teas from specific regions, herbal infusions or fruited teas are credited with the biggest growth in the past few years, accounting now for about one tenth of the tea market, currently standing at 48 million pounds.

Twinings, a brand leader in the specialty field, intend investing 1.75 million pounds, in support of their specialty teas, their quality blend Classic, and their ranges of herbal and fruit infusions. Earlier this year, Twinings acquired Jacksons of Piccadilly, one of the most prestigious names in the U.K. tea trade in a move designed to further the development of the market for specialty teas in Britain.

Jacksons sales & market director, Peter Reddyhoff, sees the move as the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the history of Jacksons. He says, "The plan is to maintain clear, separate images for the two brands. Specialty teas are now such an important part of the market, that we believe the two brands are complementary to one another."

Jacksons has always drawn its main strength for the specialty retailer and quality independent store, and Peter Reddyhoff plans to concentrate more activity in this area. He says, "Retail audit data shows that independent stores are increasing their share of specialty tea sales at the expense of the major multiples." "This supports our view that consumers will continue to look for wider choice and often more expensive products than supermarkets are prepared to offer."

"In America, now, it is customary to offer diners a selection of teas, including herbal teas, after dinner. With trends to lighter cooking styles, a fine Darjeeling or a herbal tea may often be a more suitable end to a meal than the traditional dark roast coffee."

Taylors of Harrogate are planning the launch of their new Special Estate Teas. Claimed to be the pick of the crop, all of Taylors Special Estate Teas are stamped with the name of the single estate the tea is from. These include Darjeeling, grown high up in the Himalayan foothills, Pure Assam, selected from a tea garden on the plains of the Brahmaputra River, and a Formosa Island Lapsang, a tea smoked over wood fires on the Island of Formosa. Colorful packaging distinguishes each blend.

Extra service and capitalizing on customer loyalty is another way of maintaining sales.

Brook Bond has now introduced Scottish Blend, a tea designed to benefit from the renowned taste of Scotland's soft water supply.

Ringtons Ltd. is an old established firm in Northern England to sell teas and coffees off the van directly to each household. Until the 50's, Ringtons horsedrawn vans were a popular and familiar feature in Northern towns. Running 300,000 customers, as they do at present, has made it imperative to change to a more up-to-date form of transport, but the company's long established door-to-door tradition is still emphasized by the use today of antique style motor vans.

The company's most popular lines draw on parochial loyalty -- Northumbrian Blend is made from North India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya teas.

Advertising, of course, is a prime weapon aimed at preserving market share and brand identities. Total advertising on hot beverage products in 1989 is calculated at 75.5 million pounds of which two thirds is attributed to coffee advertising. This leaves about 25 million pounds to be spent on tea promotion ... it could be expected that tea products would at least hold their own.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Author:Pattinson, Vee
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Oct 1, 1990
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