STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 10, Number 3

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 30 of 57

STiR coffee and tea 31 "The conversion of many traditional orthodox tea factories to the more in- dustrial CTC [cut, tea, curl] manufacture, in an uncritical emulation of the Kenyan model, would have become a reality de- cades ago if not for Fernando's reasoned but unrelenting opposition," according to Dilmah spokesman Spencer Manuelpillai. "Had that proposal been implemented, the diversity of Ceylon tea, its uniqueness, would have been obliterated by the de- pressing sameness of a mass-market pro- duction without individuality," he writes. Jing Tea founder Edward Eisler agrees. Tea companies that blend teas from mul- tiple origins result in a tea "that doesn't re- flect the true character of anywhere," and he told Hotelier Magazine that the character and flavor of a tea should reflect the origin of where the tea is grown and the produc- tion methods local to that origin. Professor Philip Kotler at the Kel- logg School of Management, a pioneer of modern marketing, observed that "the success of Dilmah… cannot be separat- ed from the authenticity that the brand stands for". In describing the brand's success, he cited six characteristics: "pure Ceylon tea, unblended tea, freshness, sin- gle origin tea, passionate tea maker, ethi- cal business practice, traditional methods, finest quality, natural goodness, and a pioneer in the tea industry. These in-built authenticities have eventually become the company's brand DNA," he said. Transparency Large, powerful, and intractably indivis- ible tea brands rested their reputation on a foundation of nameless growers, wholesal- ers, and blenders for two centuries. Fear- ful of competitors and the pricing power that it affords suppliers, tea brands went to great lengths to conceal their relationships. Concealment today is untenable. Transparency is established consumer behavior, accelerated by the pandemic but trending long before 2020. In 2018, every major tea brand in the UK was pressed by the Traidcraft Exchange to re- veal the growers and contract blenders by region and farm. Yorkshire Tea was the first major brand to publish its complete list of suppliers. Twining's followed, then Tetley, then Clipper. In September 2019, Unilever, a com- pany that buys 10% of the world's tea supply, indirectly employing 1 million in 21 countries and generating $3 billion in sales, revealed its suppliers in a consumer-friendly online page and downloadable PDF. Andrew McNeill, business development director at Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea in Tucson, Ariz., says a company's tangible commitment to transparency is an affirmation of a company's responsibility to its suppliers and customers… "it is also in a tea business' financial best interest. Supply-chain details are an essential part of the product's value, an extension of the product's value," writes McNeill. He adds that consumers (particularly of gourmet, health, and luxury goods) "read- ily view the supply chain as an extension of the product they buy. This is forcing merchants to re-evaluate the information that has traditionally been regarded as trade secrets. Now, those secrets about your supply chain may actually be more valuable to your business as openly available information." Many merchants feel threatened by this pressure to embrace transparency, particu- larly merchants who do not have the time or resources to invest in their direct-sourcing operations, says McNeill. "To the contrary, I'd argue that these vendors should not underestimate the value their business offers as a trusted curator. To sophisticated consumers, your choice to disclose your partners in your supply chain builds trust and goodwill that is attached to your business, first and foremost. A cafe owner who diligently maintains product quality by working closely with her suppliers ought to make this known — doing so is a concrete demonstration of the value she adds with her careful attention to supply chain. Consumers are now poised recognize her for it." Trust Loomly, a social media marketing platform, describes "brand trust as the most impor- tant quality that you need to develop as part of your brand strategy. Consumers need to trust that your brand will deliver on its promise in every interaction, or they'll search for another brand that does meet their expectations." Brand loyalty declined during the pandemic, according to McKinsey Research. McKinsey reports that globally 60% of consumers have changed their shopping behavior and that 75% of Americans changed brands during the pandemic. Brian Gregg, a senior partner at McKinsey and co-leader for North America marketing and sales practice writes that researchers globally ob- served a significant change in consumer behavior. He identified five trends: a shift to value and essentials; flight to digital an omnichannel; shock to loyalty; a focus on health and 'caring' economy; and homebody economy. This amount of change in brand loyalty is unlike any period, Gregg told ZDNet. "During these trying times, consumers have a heightened awareness of how businesses interact with stakeholders, local communities, and society more broadly. The actions that businesses take during this pandemic are likely to be remembered long after Co- vid-19 has been conquered," according to McKinsey research. Arruda concludes that "branding is the key to differentiating yourself from the competition, but if you don't build your brand promise around reality or consistently live up to it, your branding efforts are pointless. Brands are built through the consistent delivery of the brand promise through all stakeholder touch points. It is the consistent, desired experience that builds trust and trust is the foundation for loyalty and promotion."

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of STiR coffee and tea magazine - Volume 10, Number 3