It’s in the Bag — the Tea Bag, That Is
Remember when tea growers used to urge coffee-centric consumers to “Take tea and see”? Years later, it is difficult to see which tea to buy when visiting the beverage aisles in stores, stuffed as they are with all manner of teas: black, green, white, mass-market, premium-priced, private-label, gourmet, herbal, flavored, natural, organic and so on.
Even gum makers are getting into the act. The trade publication Brandweek reported last week that Perfetti Van Melle USA will introduce Mentos Pure Fresh gum with “green tea extract that kills the bacteria that causes bad breath.”
Hmmmm. Take tea and breathe?
To stand out among the wave of teas, a leading brand of tea bags, Salada, sold by Redco Foods, is starting a campaign that promotes brewing tea rather than buying it in bottles. The campaign, by an agency in Syracuse, N.Y., named the Pinckney Hugo Group, urges tea drinkers to “Unbottle your tea.”
The campaign, which echoes the old “Uncola” campaign for 7Up, is centered on a microsite, or special Web site, for Salada Green Tea (unbottleyourtea.com). Visitors can read about the benefits of brewing tea, play games, enter sweepstakes, download coupons and sign up to receive free water bottles in which to tote around their brewed tea.
There are also recipes, a “tell a friend” feature and a link to the regular Web site for Salada Green Tea (greentea.com).
Information about the campaign is being added to print ads for Salada Green Tea, which present the product as part of a healthy life style. And there is a public relations effort for the “Unbottle” initiative.
The campaign, which began last month, has a budget estimated at $200,000 through the end of March. More is likely to be spent in the coming Redco fiscal year, which starts on April 1, 2009.
The campaign makes the case for freshly brewed tea on several fronts, declaring it to be less expensive, better for the environment and more healthful. That ties in with three hot trends in marketing, summarized on the Web site as “good for your wallet,” “good for the planet” and “good for you.”
Work on the campaign began almost a year ago, says Michele Peters, brand manager at Redco in Windsor, Conn., a unit of the Teekanne Group, a German tea company.
In addition to Salada tea bags, in green and black varieties, Redco also sells tea-bag brands like Red Rose and Teekanne Herbal Wellness Tea as well as venerable products like Junket Rennet Custard, which Ms. Peters calls “the most nostalgic brand in the universe.”
The market for tea bags is “intensely competitive,” Ms. Peters says. Other brands include Bigelow, Brooke Bond, Celestial Seasonings, Constant Comment, Lipton, Luzianne, Nestea, Tetley and Twinings.
“That makes it a little bit difficult,” she adds, “but that also makes it fun.”
Research that Redco conducted in the last year revealed that there was a large potential market for Salada among women aged 25 to 35, Ms. Peters says, who would help the brand to broaden its demographic appeal from its present core of women who are 45 and older.
But those younger women “drink tea in bottles,” she adds, rather than brewing it fresh from tea bags, which gave birth to the idea of promoting tea outside the box — er, bottle.
“The first thing we thought about was the health aspect,” Ms. Peters says, referring to data showing that freshly brewed Salada Green Tea has more than double the levels of an antioxidant, EGCG, than bottled teas.
And freshly brewed green tea has no calories, she adds, compared with the calorie-laden contents of bottles of sweetened tea. (Unsweetened tea in bottles is, of course, calorie-free, too.)
Then there is “the environmental aspect,” Ms. Peters says, which is addressed on the Web site with information about the billions of plastic bottles that are not recycled each year.
The Web site also calls for support of a bill before Congress, the Bottle Recycling Climate Protection Act, which would levy a 5-cent deposit nationally on beverage containers, including bottled teas and waters.
In recent months, “the economic conditions everyone’s feeling” led to a decision that the campaign would also play up “how much cheaper it is to make your own tea,” Ms. Peters says, rather than buying bottled tea.
According to information provided by Pinckney Hugo as part of the campaign, a 16-ounce serving of green tea made from Salada tea bags costs about 36 cents, in contrast to about $1.60 for the same amount of tea in a bottle.
The market for bottled teas continues to grow, says Aaron Hugo, partner at Pinckney Hugo, primarily because of “the convenience factor.”
“It’s easy to grab a bottle and take it to work, take it to the gym,” he adds, “but if you buy a couple bottles a week versus box tea, you’re talking about a huge cost saving” by switching to tea bags, “especially in this economy.”
That, along with the health and ecology issues, led to the concept of “an educational campaign,” Mr. Hugo says, “that would say, ‘It’s great you’re drinking tea, but from a health, cost and environmental standpoint you should be drinking freshly brewed tea. ’”
“The biggest challenge is to get across, especially to younger drinkers, that it does not take a long time to make brewed tea,” he adds. “You make some hot water and brew some tea.” The campaign is “another way to reintroduce a brand a lot of people are aware of,” Mr. Hugo says, “but haven’t engaged with for a while.”
“Obviously, it’s a fractured category,” he adds, referring to the tea-bag market. “You walk up to a store shelf and it seems there are a thousand boxes staring at you.”
That Salada “has been in green tea from Day 1,” Mr. Hugo says, will help the brand deliver the pitch to switch to tea bags from bottles.
Correction: The Campaign Spotlight last week, about a promotion for a bank in South Carolina, Countybank, which is centered on giving away biscuits, misquoted a remark by Bill Jenkins, the marketing director at Countybank. He said, “The ham biscuit is a habitual breakfast food here,” not “The hand biscuit.”
(Sorry, readers. To someone who grew up in Brooklyn, “hand biscuit” sounded perfectly reasonable.)