How Yorkshire Tea became one of the top UK brands

Yorkshire Tea’s inclusion in YouGov’s list of the top 10 UK brands may have been a surprise to some but the brand itself says a focus on communicating its personality has helped attract new buyers.

Yorkshire Tea made a surprise appearance in YouGov BrandIndex’s top UK brands list this week. YouGov BrandIndex measures the public’s perception of brands on a daily basis across a range of measures, including value, impression and satisfaction. The annual results were compiled using buzz scores from across the year, measuring whether people have heard good or bad news about a brand during the previous two weeks.

The brand took seventh place with a buzz score of 10.1. It was the only FMCG brand to bag itself a spot in the top 10. While Yorkshire Tea is a relative newcomer when it comes to YouGov BrandIndex tracking its scores, it seems to be holding up well. It is currently placed second on the overall buzz index rankings among 28 competitors, above other brands including PG Tips and Douwe Egberts. The brand also scores highly in terms of reputation, quality and purchase intent.

Yorkshire Tea’s marketing commitment

In 2015, the tea brand set itself the target of becoming the UK’s second largest tea brand and made a significant marketing commitment to support this aim, launching a £5 million campaign.

According to Kevin Sinfield, Taylors of Harrogate’s head of brand marketing, the campaign was well received by consumers due to its “positive” nature. He told Marketing Week: “With our campaign, we wanted to focus on being exciting, funny and positive – which are traits we want to retain going forward.

The success of these traits has since come through in the tracking results, with the brand recruiting 500,000 new buyers following the 12 weeks after the launch of the campaign.

According to the brand, IRI data from the 20 weeks ending 5 December shows that Yorkshire Tea sales value increased by 7% compared to before the ad aired.

Bucking industry trends

Sinfield says the brand is doing better than market norms, in part due to not getting swept up in pushing promotional offers.

He explained: “The market is promotionally driven by our competitors, but it’s about getting the balance right. Rather than joining the promotion race, we’re looking to deliver sustainable long term growth.”

Another challenge for the industry is the growing popularity of other beverages, leading to growing apathy towards black tea.

“There is much more choice out there and not just within category. Countless juices and other cold drinks have come into the market in recent years. As a result, other areas are seen as more innovative and exciting than tea,” he commented.

But Sinfield remains hopeful. He concludes: “Few categories can restore or uplift like a cup of tea. We are still a nation of tea drinkers. While it’s hard to deliver cut through, as a brand we seek to continue to challenge and stand out from our competitors this year.”

Challenging times for tea

Yorkshire Tea’s success comes despite challenges in the market. Unfortunately, the rest of the market is not doing so well. The two biggest brands in the tea market PG Tips and Tetley, which combined account for half of volume sales, are in decline (see table).

Value 2014** Share     2015*** Share % change 2014-2015
£m % £m %
PG Tips (Unilever) 168 25 162 25 -3.6
Tetley (Tata Global Beverages) 122 18 110 17 -9.8
Total tea market 667 100 657 100 -1.5
** 52 weeks ending 21 June 2014
*** 52 weeks ending 20 June 2015

On a broader scale, value sales have fallen by 6% from £699 million in 2010 to an estimated £654 million in 2015 across the tea retail market in the UK.

Meanwhile, in volume terms over the same time period, sales have dropped by 22%, from 97 million kg to an estimated 76 million kg. Mintel forecasts that volume sales will drop to 68.7 million kg by 2020.

Speaking on the declining market, Emma Clifford, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, says: “Standard black tea is struggling to maintain consumers’ interest amid growing competition from other drinks – held back by a rather uninspiring image. This has translated into the downfall of the tea category overall.”