It’s common knowledge that a human organism must consume about two liters of liquid per day to function properly. Most of this liquid enters the body in the form of drinks – and the remainder with foods that we eat during the day. Unsurprisingly, various beverage industries (tea, coffee, juices, soft drinks and even alcohol) compete intensely for a place in this liquid lineup
This competition takes place on many fronts; one of its key aspects, in my opinion, is communication with the consumer. If we examine common industry practices, we will notice that each competing industry is trying to build its unique approach and message. This is true especially of the flagship segments of particular markets. Here, each industry’s task is to show the pinnacle of its achievements and to give consumer the opportunity to express their individuality within those market segments. Fine wine, craft beer, specialty coffee, etc… All competitors of tea use their own unique concepts when working with their target audiences.
Following the successful introduction of the “Specialty” / “Speciality” marketing strategy by the coffee industry a few years ago, increasingly often I hear people using the same label for exclusive teas. Is this a good practice? If you are a tea seller in a consumer market, then, from a tactical point of view, this choice is understandable, because it is convenient. But strategically, this is certainly a serious mistake for the tea industry.
A comparably bad strategic mistake has already been made by the tea industry relatively recently, about 30 years ago, when the very meaning of the word “tea” began to erode. At the time, unfortunately, there was no resistance from tea-producing countries, and the consuming countries took the same position we are seeing today: “It’s so convenient!” And now, all over the world, anything that is brewed like tea, i.e., Camelia Sinensis proper, is called “tea.” I think that this mistake has also contributed to the subsequent economic devaluation of tea.
The use of the terms “Specialty” / “Speciality” as descriptor for exclusive types of tea solves only the problem of the moment: distinguishing such teas from mass-consumer varieties. However, this labeling does not allow consumers to personalize their choices within the tea world and even, as it were, undermines the integrity of the tea market as such. Whether we like it or not, by using a label borrowed from competitors we willingly or unwillingly communicate with a “foreign” target audience, thereby casting doubt on the value of our own product.
One of the key arguments in favor of the “Specialty” / “Speciality” descriptor is that there are no other words with the same or similar meaning… But, colleagues, let’s not forget that people have the power to shape the meaning of words.
Focus on the Message
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