Tea brands are looking to capitalise on the category’s new found popularity with younger drinkers.

The resurgence of afternoon tea and growing consumer demand for products with a visible provenance is presenting marketers with an opportunity to revive a category that is in decline. Sales of traditional tea remains dominant with 70 per cent of the market, according to Mintel, but sales fell 1.5 per cent last year from £470m to £463m.

Diversity is impacting tea consumption and the decline in sales of traditional tea has pushed brewers to look to premiumisation of everyday ranges and investment in alternative varieties as a means of broadening their offering.

Amy Price, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel says while traditional tea still enjoys high levels of penetration in the UK, the growth of coffee chains and emergence of healthier soft drinks over the years has put the total tea category in “long-term” decline. There is a drive from brands to steal the “healthy angle” of speciality teas such as herbal and fruit blends and translate it into sales for their “everyday” ranges, she adds.

Speciality tea supplier Twinings is hoping upcoming product launches and revamps, developed in partnership with BrandOpus, across its Everyday Tea, Infusions and Sliky Pyramids ranges can convince consumers to trade up as it looks to add £20m to the mainstream tea market over the next three years. It is also planning to pull away from TV and use digital more in an attempt to focus more on using advocates to drive sales through word of mouth.

Heather Hartridge, marketing director at Twinings, says the activity aims to give the brand a more “light-hearted and fun” tone  after admitting previous brand building efforts had made the brand less accessible.

She adds: “People are no longer growing up with a traditional view of tea. They don’t have a tea habit that’s been drilled into them over the years and are far more open minded to experimenting with different variants. We’re seeing good increases in the number of younger drinkers coming to the brand because of the breadth of products we offer.”

Mainstream tea maker Yorkshire Tea is rolling out a brand building campaign, alongside similar efforts from rivals PG Tips and Tetley, in the hopes of attracting speciality tea drinkers, it claims are increasingly likely to complement green, fruit and herbal teas with traditional variants also.

The tea brand is embarking on a digital charge, created in partnership with agency Limehouse, that will use  Facebook and YouTube to help tempt lapsed PG Tips and Tetley drinkers to switch over.  It is also ramping up its investment on in-store promotions and sampling activity in line with its expanding presence in retailers nationwide. The brewer says the aim is to help it compete on an “even footing” with its rivals and help break down perceptions of Yorkshire Tea being a “regional brand with national distribution”.

Kevin Sinfield, marketing manager at Yorkshire Tea, says: “The mainstream tea market is declining in volume and value, so bringing in new drinkers is not going to happen anytime soon. Our focus is to leverage the quirky and eccentric characteristics of the Yorkshire Tea brand through advertising – which we’re spending increasingly on digital channels – to make us stand out and drive switching from our competitors.”

Elsewhere, Tetley is developing an £8m advertising strategy it hopes will lift demand after sales fell 4.6 per cent year-on-year to £130.9m last year. The tea brand, famed for its Tetley folk cartoon characters, is also running activity to support its “Blend of Both” range – a blend of black and green teas. A revamped shopper marketing strategy is also in the works. Unilever’s PG Tips is looking to bolster the brand through a campaign around its new on-pack “Cuppa Club” loyalty scheme, which it hopes will enhance the “catch-up cuppa” ritual.