Despite the ongoing supermarket price wars and an array of cut-price deals on branded tea, Whittard’s CEO Mark Dunhill isn’t worried about losing custom. He says the brand can distinguish itself from its competitors by offering quality tea-on-the-go.
“We are an affordable indulgence. A lot of people are put off by the way hot drinks are served in coffee chains. It is dumped in a plastic cup and isn’t appealing,” he told Marketing Week.
“We properly brew our tea, using different temperatures for different teas. We see that as a growing opportunity.”
Whittard also plans to introduce more tea bars, which offer customers the chance to try any of its teas with cake or a scone.
“Our Regent Street branch is currently our prototype tea bar. But it’s a concept that we are looking to roll out throughout our branches,” Dunhill commented.
Brand image overhaul
The tea brand has brought out its new range, entitled The Century of Tea, as part of a wider brand relaunch.
Dunhill believes its brand positioning was in need of a desperate overhaul.
“We were a bit stuffy in the past. Now we are fresher, more youthful but still retain a certain English dignity while being self-deprecating,” he explained.
To launch its new range of teas, Whittard has invested in above the line media, primarily via print and social media, for the first time in over a decade.
“Now for the first time, we have an added story to tell. We want to get back on people’s radar,” he said.
Besides social media and digital activity, the brand has struck up a media partnership with Time Inc., which invites magazine readers into its stores.
The campaign will be rolled out throughout autumn and into next year.
Building an emotional relationship with existing and prospective customers, however, has become most important to the brand according to Dunhill.
“It’s fundamental to our vision of the future, and having that emotional relationship will distinguish us from other tea brands,” he concluded.
“When it comes to our stores, we have added a bit of theatre and intrigue to take the customer on a real journey. Premium tea is increasingly popular, so we want to capitalise on that growing market in our own unique way.”