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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Post Pandemic: Is the Tea Trade Prepared for the Highlight?

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What’s the final cup of tea you loved? Now suppose again and attempt to keep in mind – what truly prompted you to have it? For me, it’s pure behavior. I’m consuming tea proper now, as I write, as a result of that’s what I at all times do. As our business emerges from lockdowns and faces a really completely different world on the market, the query of behavior turns into a vital one.

Over the past yr, we’ve seen many habits disrupted and plenty of new ones shaped of their place. Consuming tea at house is a kind of new habit for numerous households. In March 2020 alone, e-commerce retailers noticed gross sales improve by 25 percent, and whereas a few of these represented one-time “pantry packing” habits, 2020 as an entire introduced a plain acceleration in the way in which we store, shifting to e-commerce. Even with restaurant and cafe closures, unfastened leaf tea gross sales still managed to grow – not shrink – in 2020.

The specialty tea business has been uprooted by the pandemic – from lockdowns driving many brick and mortar outlets out of business, to produce chain disruptions creating unprecedented delivery challenges. But, the specialty tea business grew; it didn’t wither away.

Extra Folks Are Consuming Tea – However Why?

We know extra persons are consuming tea, so the vital query is why? If we will perceive why individuals have turned to tea, then possibly this second of latest shopper habits shaped might be a chance for our business to type its personal new habits, new methods of doing enterprise that lay a stable basis for the way forward for tea.

So, what saved individuals from consuming tea by way of the pandemic? Was it about well-being and wellness? Was it a shift in retailers for disposable revenue with eating places closed? I’d enterprise to say that it goes deeper. This pandemic has had us all re-evaluating our priorities, and one of many greatest clear priorities that emerged was the centrality of our living spaces, of our houses.

Folks. Not Traits.

It could be reductive to speak about traits. As an alternative, let’s discuss individuals.

Folks didn’t begin consuming tea and maintain consuming it simply because they had been being marketed to in a brand new means or heard it could be more healthy. Folks make the choices day-after-day to do what they do as a result of we consider our selections will make us happier, bringing pleasure into our on regular basis life. Everybody has their very own distinctive story on how they started consuming tea, however, the commonality is bringing tea out of the unfamiliar and unique and into the acquainted and comforting.

(Photograph: Courtesy of Verdant Tea)

Tea could have begun as a drug, going all how again to its legendary origins and Emperor Shen Nong, but it surely rapidly shifted to a ritual. This ritual was codified by Lu Yu in one of all China’s first mass-published best-sellers, Cha Jing. This influential textual content captured the altering angle in direction of tea from a bitter medicinal brew to a vital ritual in each non-public life and social interplay.

Specialty tea drinkers use tea to punctuate their days, utilizing tea as a companion to work, to check, to leisure. We provide tea up for visitors and households, and tea lovers worldwide join and type new communities throughout social media platforms.

Our important query as a business now could be to learn how to protect these new habits. How can the specialty tea business encourage much more individuals to carry tea into their everyday ritual, the identical means Individuals have with wine and occasional? How can specialty tea change into behavior as indispensable because the morning cup of espresso or as acquainted as candy iced tea?

The Tea Trade and Constructing Credibility

Our business is consistently sabotaging itself by advertising tea as a development, as one thing unique and rarified. As an alternative, we have to construct credibility for tea as one thing that may supply a lot (or extra) of depth to our private lives and our social lives as wine and occasional. 

How can we do that? Accessibility and belief.

Accessibility is about stripping again the layers of gatekeeping. Tea must be handled as one thing anybody can take pleasure in sizzling or iced, in a mug, or utilizing conventional teaware. This isn’t only a messaging challenge – it is a high-quality challenge. Tea must be adequate to be definitely worth the effort. If somebody takes the large step to strive tea, newcomers ought to be rewarded with gorgeous outcomes, not confronted with a bitter brew.

We have to cease treating tea as one thing unique. Exoticism does not always talk worth – it might intrigue or momentarily entice, however this advertising technique, in the end, separates the individuals having fun with a product from those who made it. In specialty tea, this applies inserts pointless distance between producers and customers, hiding authenticity by taking away the tales and names of the individuals behind the tea.

As eating places and occasional outlets reopen, our business has an additional alternative to normalize tea by partnering with ambassadors (like sommeliers and baristas) to carry tea to brick-and-mortar beverage packages in a means that’s neither an afterthought nor a “costume up get together,” however as an alternative places tea on the identical par as wine and occasional.

What About Belief?

Accessibility opens the door, however, belief is what brings individuals in to remain. We can’t count on developing as a business till we cease pondering of progress in purely fiscal phrases and as an alternative incorporate the concept of rising, of bringing our business’s requirements of transparency as much as not less than the identical degree as espresso and wine, if not increased.

With espresso, individuals can truly meet the roasters if they go to an espresso store. There’s a direct connection between producer and shopper, and this connection builds belief. And whereas the espresso business confronted its personal distinctive COVID-19 challenges in 2020, its place as an unassailable part of everyday routine and the business’s extra mature dedication to transparency helped it weather the storm.

With wine, the maker is nearly at all times credited. Bottle labels characteristic the vineyard prominently so that when individuals discover one thing they love, they will construct belief with that producer, searching for different wines by the identical maker, and even visiting the vineyard.

But with tea, particular person growers and producers are hardly ever credited. There is no such thing as an alternative for customers to construct belief with producers, and belief should be outsourced to manufacturers. Teas are bought below the model of resellers, regardless that resellers add worth to logistics and distribution, to not the product itself, and the ensuing gaps in worth can sabotage the trust-building course.

If the specialty tea business needs tea to keep part of American life, it wants to indicate that specialty tea has one thing basic to supply individuals. This implies discovering an option to talk lasting worth and taking an introspective second to make it possible for we’re, the truth is, delivering worth that’s price speaking.

Our houses, our on regular basis life are our most non-public areas, and customers don’t wish to really feel marketed to – we wish reference to individuals. The growing reach of social commerce performs in this sense, as customers reply to enriched social experiences. We wish to know the place the issues we take pleasure income from, we wish to know their story and the worth this story brings, and we wish to join with, be taught from, and assist those who we believe.

Tea in North America – Customers Are Prepared for It

Individuals are greater than able to carry tea into their everyday lives, however, the specialty tea business has to satisfy them midway. The expansion of tea within the American family over the pandemic invites new curiosity with real accessibility and real belief. This implies evaluating our roles and ensuring that each motion we take provides worth to tea as an alternative of taking worth from the producers (underpaying, exploiting, and extra), or taking worth from customers by underdelivering on high quality.

For years, our business has puzzled if Individuals should not be prepared for specialty tea, or don’t but recognize it on a big scale. The research is in. They’re prepared. However… are we able to ship?

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Rachel Ha
Industrial and agricultural product enthusiast. Expert on Vietnam economy. Focus on FTA agreements between Vietnam and other countries.
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