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The Tea Story: Companies brew new formula to woo today's consumers

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As the demand for great tasting nutrition continues to spike, there has been a swell of customer interest in the tea category too. With consumers much well-travelled and health conscious today, they are looking for quality products of international repute.
Keeping in mind the new urban health consciousness and in keeping with the changing taste and beverage preferences in India, tea companies have introduced a range of anti-oxidant rich and new products.
Typhoo, an iconic British tea brand with a long and rich heritage stretching back to 1903, encompass an extensive collection of healthy beverages that sell in over 50 countries the world over. Its product range includes decaf, green teas, fruit & organic infusions, and these are mainly addressed toward health & wellness consumers.
The health and wellness plank is set to be a major growth driver within packaged beverages in India and the health and wellness segment is worth a sizeable Rs. 33,000 crore, growing 6 per cent over last year, says a Tea Sizzlers Euromonitor report. In 2005, Typhoo was acquired by Apeejay Tea, one of India’s largest tea producers with plantations spread across 50,000 acres in Assam. Later in 2008, Typhoo made its foray into India.
The Typhoo brand in India has eight varieties of green tea – Pure Green (Natural), Traditional Tulsi, Lemongrass, Jasmine, Moroccan Mint, Masala, Coconut, Lemon & Honey (recently launched); three varieties of fruit infusions – Orange Spicer, Lemon & Lime Zest & Black Currant Bracer; Two varieties of organic infusions – Pure Chamomile & Pure Peppermint; and decaf tea.
“Our dedicated team of tasters travels extensively throughout the world, selecting only the best teas, flavors & infusions, suited for the Indian palate,” says Business Head, Typhoo India, Subrata Mukerji.
Another company with a wide range of value-added tea & herbal infusion products geared to appeal to today’s youth and their busy lifestyle is Te-A-Me teas launched in 2014 by Madhu Jayanti International Limited.
“Te-A-Me attempts to offer a healthy hot beverage suited for each need that a person goes through the day. We’ve got a range of 20 flavors, each geared to a particular consumption moment of the day – starting from the ‘Energizing Assam’ to give a kick-start to the day to an ‘Unwind Chamomile’, which helps bring a peaceful end to the day,” says Executive Director, Madhu Jayanti International Limited, Sumit Shah.
The passion for selling fine tea is also shared by Newby Teas and Yours Tea, both of which have decades of experience behind them.
“We have more than three decades of experience in the food manufacturing business and are manufacturers of biscuits and tea under the brand name Yours,” says Managing Director, Yours Tea, S N Agarwalla. On the other hand, Newby Teas offers the finest tea experience through its line of classic tea bags, premium silken pyramids range, loose leaf teas, herbal infusions and an exclusive luxury range of gift items.
“Our mission to revive the culture of enjoying fine tea and we are doing it through our range of tea varieties, which includes black, green, white, oolong and fruit/herbal tisanes,” says Marketing Manager, Newby Teas (India) Pvt. Ltd, Kunal Biswas.
With changing lifestyle and wellness perceptions, green tea and its variants have emerged as the preferred choice of people with premium lifestyle choices and conscious of their well-being. For instance, the green tea category is the fastest growing segment for Madhu Jayanti International’s Te-A-Me brand.
“Kashmiri Kahwa and Honey Lemon green tea are the best performers in our portfolio. This year, we hope that the Indian consumers will embrace herbal beverages and help us drive this category higher than its current 1-2 per cent market share,” says Sumit Shah.
Today, green tea represents an established category. Giants such as Tetley and Lipton are driving the consumption and growth of the category. With the demand for green teas, fruit and herbal infusions set to climb further, players like Typhoo and others plan to add more varieties and options of consumption in this segment. The space that Te-A-Me plays in represents 1-1.5 per cent of the tea category – herbal infusions.
In India, herbals infusions represent a small but growing consumer choice amongst hot beverages. “The category is growing at 25-30 per cent annually and this is the new area for exponential growth for us,” says Shah whose Te-A-Me brand is positioned for a substantially large growth in the tea bag category.
In order to drive consumption, Typhoo is not only offering innovation, quality and consistency in its product portfolio but also engaging in various consumer engagement activities. “Typhoo has experienced rich professionals in-house to advocate and educate the end consumers and industry on fine teas and conduct workshops and tea tastings. We have been doing this with many reputed chefs in the past and will continue undertaking more such consumer engagement activities in times to come,” avers Mukerji who has devised a consumer experiential strategy for Typhoo’s retail expansion. “Currently, we are present in over 700 modern retail stores and over 3,000 top stores catering across India. The focus this year is to expand in top general trade and stand-alone modern stores.”
Like Typhoo, Te-A-Me too has a well-defined strategy for retail outreach beyond its largest retailers represented by Big Bazaar, METRO Cash & Carry, HyperCITY and Nature’s Basket.
“Our retail outreach is largely driven by strategies that involve working closely with retailers to track consumer trends and constantly changing our retail portfolio to offer products in line with the consumer demands. This strategy has worked very well for us, ensuring low dead stock on shelf and a very high throughput for the retail chain,” says Sumit Shah.
According to Biswas of Newby Teas, “We are already available in gourmet retail counters like Foodhall, METRO, Spencer’s, HyperCITY, etc, and are planning to increase our product range in these outlets. Additionally, we are also in discussion with our retail partners to expand our footprint to their other outlets. We are quite selective in choosing a potential outlet where we can make our products available.”
Retailers and brands are unanimous that consumers will respond enthusiastically to products that reflect the core consumer trends dominating the market: taste, functionality, health, as well as unique blends that consumers might not experiment with on their own. However, the challenges cannot be ignored. “Availability of quality teas due to climatic changes and manpower shortage at the tea estates is a very serious challenge. In terms of opportunity, the category has immense potential to grow in the coming times, backed by proper distribution and supply chain,” states Biswas, who also believes that promoting the best products, providing innovative consumer experiences at floor level, offering enhanced visibility, and educating the consumer will play an important role in the category’s growth.
“Brands need to understand shopper behavior which is the key to category management. Players need to keep evolving various tools of staying relevant and innovative by focusing on brand engagement and activations with retail store owners and engage with the consumers at the store,” opines Mukerji of Typhoo India. Moving forward, the beverage category is expected to continue to innovate and consumers will get to see more creative combinations within the category.

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