Tea Drinking for Anyone BUT Old Ladies
A promotional photo for a tea-blend by Pitch Black North in collaboration with the band Cradle of Filth. Credit: CallyNicole Arsenault / Featured in NYT article
A Challenge for Marketers and Advertisers
What if your job was to market an old standby to a completely new audience?
If you’re a marketer or an advertiser, your job is to market old products to new audiences. Your success relies on your ability to stimulate sales in modern markets long after the newness of an item has worn off. It's like trying to get people excited about buying flour or butter, matches or soap.
Let’s say you have to create sales for cheese, to people who aren’t interested in it, because they think that it’s just for stodgy Midwestern women and casseroles laden with fat. Put on your thinking caps. How do you market cheese to a new audience?
You could follow the lead of tea companies who are winning new converts, increasing sales, and expanding their brand by overturning the previous stereotypes.
Marketing Strategies of the Tea-Trade
A recent article in the New York Times, “Care for a Cup of Satanic Chamomile?” — the title of that article a stroke of marketing genius all on its own — showcased the changing world of tea and how innovative tea merchants are targeting a vastly different consumer than in years past.
It’s important to note that tea is the fastest-growing segment of the beverage industry, second only to bottled water. While much of the United States prefers coffee, worldwide, the population favors tea, drinking 25,000 cups every SECOND, 2.16 billion cups per day, and consuming 700 billion gallons of tea per year.
Even though many Americans prefer coffee, there’s a growing demand for tea in the United States, partly because the tea-trade is shifting perceptions and shaking stereotypes about the people who drink it.
Three Tea-Industry Marketing Techniques to Emulate
1. Creative combos and unpredicted partnerships
If you thought that tea-drinking was just for old ladies in hats, think again. Tea companies are growing their audiences by forming unexpected partnerships. Music, in particular, is one industry that tea retailers are hooking up with to grow a more diverse audience than the genteel old-woman stereotype of the past.
How about pairing tea blends with head-banging musicians, an approach that Pitch Black North is trying? The owner, Dominic Alvernaz, has formed partnerships with the Cleveland metal punk band, Midnight, and the British heavy-metal band, Cradle of Filth. Alvernaz believes that pairing a special blend of teas with musicians is an effective sales tool to
“…get people interested in tea who wouldn’t normally be interested in it…”
Isn’t that what all marketers do? They interest people who wouldn’t ordinarily be interested.
Another tea company, Ivy’s Tea, owned by Shanae Jones in Laurel, Maryland, is also using the power of music to sell her wares. Jones has joined her blends to hip-hop music with a nod to her British and Jamaican ancestry. She wants to promote tea for brown people.
“People that look like me are not included in tea advertisements, we’re not the market for tea parties…, so I just decided I was going to change all of that.”
Creative collaborations don’t only help the tea company. They also benefit the musicians who can sell the product on their website with their merchandise and personalize their image.
2. New product names
Teas named Lady Grey or Sweet Vanilla Cupcake aren’t the right product names for burlier, bolder, more bodacious consumers, so tea sommeliers have created titles that work with their targeted audience. Take, for instance, Pitch Black North whose website includes phrases like, "Sin Now. Steep Forever" and "Every Sip Is Blasphemy," and "Hail, Satan!"
Pitch Black North pinpoints its unique audience with teas named, Throat of Lucifer, Satan’s Slumber, and Dark Blood. The teas themselves are not scary to taste. They’re described as malty, classic English breakfast teas, and a delightful Vanilla Blueberry concoction, but you would never know it by the name.
Ms. Jones of Ivy’s Teas also creates product names that resonate with her Jamaican hip-hop brand and target audience. Jones offers blends called, Sister, Sister, Yella, and Red Bone.
Even the company name can target an audience. Consider Brutaliteas, with the tagline of "tea time just got heavy" and aligns itself with the horror genre, an industry ripe with tea drinkers thirsty for blends like Chaiday-the-13th, and Children of the Candy Corn.
You’ve heard the adage that the definition of failure is when you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. It’s true with visual marketing. Growing your audience may mean doing something drastically different.
The tea-trade demonstrates fascinating ways to change stereotypes and create new audiences for an old product. If you followed the lead of these creative tea-traders, you could gain new markets for any product. Let's say you're still working on how to gain sales for the ancient food source, cheese, by applying the same three tactics:
First, brainstorm creative combinations of products with groups representing possible audiences. Think up crazy combinations. Be bold. Be brave. Pair cheese with astronauts and space exploration. Or maybe super-models and the fashion industry. Consider dog-lovers, gold-diggers, money-makers, sports-watchers, and babysitters — whatever group offers a viable market-share. The possible pairings are both endless and compelling.
Next, come up with new product names — because who wants to eat boring bleu cheese when you could be sampling, Over the Bleu Moon, One Giant Taste for Man, or Houston’s Hunk?
Finally, shake up the visuals. Replace those pictures of dairy cows with something that appeals to your audience — whichever group you’ve chosen to target. Dare to be different. Forget the photos of cheese trays and crackers. Leave the pics of broccoli and macaroni covered with cheese sauce. Forego the cheddar color and explore a different palette altogether.
When you’re done with your job for the day and have gotten lots of new people interested in purchasing something they’d never cared about before, you can sit down, relax, and have a cuppa while you watch your product's sales soar.