Last week I talked about teaware and accessory trends for 2014 and how that could affect the holiday retail market. This week I look more closely at the tea side (with a brief foray into related products) and some interesting sales strategies.
There are hundreds of sources of specialty tea in the marketplace in standalone retail tea shops, in grocery and gourmet food markets, in online tea shops. Tea enthusiasts are not hesitant to explore the spectrum and seek out new and unique lines. When it comes to the holidays, however, the landscape shifts a bit.
Retailers need to consider that the holiday buyer is often NOT the tea-interested party, but rather a loved one looking to find a great gift. It is important to make it easy for these shoppers to find the perfect gifts to suit their needs. This is where packaging, positioning and marketing will be even more important.
DAVIDsTEA went all-in on the holiday packaging this year. There are mugs with Fair Isle sweater patterns, holiday tea collections in stylish boxes, and even tree ornaments that arrive full of tea. They have combined this effort with strategic email communications that present a handful of their most visually appealing products with quick links to purchase. They have already sold out of their “24 Days of Tea” Advent calendar. Creative packaging catches eyes and sales.
Single box gift sets offer convenience and suggest to a customer that they are purchasing something that has a seal of approval from a tea expert. Harney & Sons Fine Teas, for example, knows their market and emphasizes “tradition,” creating a holiday gift offering that highlights a well-loved tea blend along with an infuser mug and gourmet jam. Teavana takes a similar approach with their 12 Holidays of Tea set. Emphasize your experience and knowledge of what tea lovers want.
The best products don’t make a business successful if customers don’t know you have them. In your store and in your online presence, make sure you are helping customers find what they need. Storefront sellers have become adept at product placement, using visual cues to draw attention. Online sellers must do the same. Companies like Tay Tea are exercising good practice in creating a separate page on their site where their “holiday gifts” are listed together. There is nothing particularly “holiday” about the items, but by grouping them and promoting them in this way, they are highlighting existing products as having gift potential.
An Add On about Add-Ons
As you think about your tea collections and creative ways to group and sell products, it is also useful to consider add-on products. We often see tea tins combined with teaware or accessories. But how about something different? Companies like iHeartTeas and Glenburn Tea Direct are creating tea cosmetics and bath and body products.
Books are another useful add-on item for visual appeal. You could display fictional offerings, like Laura Childs’ tea shop mysteries, non-fiction like Mary Lou Heiss and Robert Heiss’s “The Story of Tea” or Sarah Rose’s “For All the Tea in China,” or perhaps essays like “A Tea Reader: Living Life One Cup at a Time” by one of your favorite Tea Biz writers. (wink wink)
Okay, tea retailers, what are your holiday plans to catch attention and make sales this season?