Yorkshire Tea on upholding its challenger status and making its ads ‘culturally famous’

Yorkshire Tea’s new campaign aims to build on current momentum as the only major UK tea brand that has delivered growth in the black tea market.

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Yorkshire Tea has released a new campaign in a bid to sustain its sales growth in a declining tea market and deliver cut-through among consumers.

The new campaign, created by Lucky Generals and launching today (2 March), sees the brand recruit multiple celebrities from Yorkshire, including TV veteran Michael Parkinson, Olympic triathletes the Brownlee Brothers and the Kaiser Chiefs.

They appear in a variety of comic scenarios aimed at demonstrating Yorkshire Tea’s “unwavering passion and uncompromising dedication” to doing things properly.

The first of these adverts will be unveiled on Saturday (4 March) during The Voice on ITV, and will be supported by PR, digital and social media activity.

Through the advertising push, the brand says it hopes to uphold its challenger brand status and build on momentum as the only major UK tea brand that has delivered consistent year-on-year growth in the black tea market.

“We see it more as an evolution than revolution. It has become increasingly difficult to deliver cut-through among consumers, so a big focus was to continue to talk about ‘properness’ while trying to make our advertising culturally famous,” Kevin Sinfield, Yorkshire Tea’s head of brand marketing, tells Marketing Week.

Yorkshire Tea currently has a market share of 21.7% and is approaching the number two position in the UK behind Twinings and PG Tips. It has also cemented its position as the only FMCG brand to be listed in the top 10 in the YouGov’s BrandIndex, ranking at number seven on the list for the second year running.

When questioned on whether Yorkshire Tea can still label itself as a “challenger” now that it is the UK’s third biggest tea brand, Sinfield insists that it is still “competing against the Goliaths” such as Unilever.

“It’s an incredibly competitive environment. As a challenger brand you need to think differently, constantly evolve and always looks to defy category conventions. We have done that consistently, which in turn has delivered year-on-year growth,” he explains.

A 2016 Mintel report on tea confirms his claim, showing that Yorkshire Tea and Pukka Tea both grew sales. The rest of the black tea market is not doing as well, however. There has been a significant decline in sales of tea, hot chocolate and hot malted drinks between 2011 and 2015 – 14% by volume and 5% by value. There are also further declines predicted for 2017.

While Sinfield admits that he feels pressured to keep up momentum and that there is still a job to do in terms of fighting consumer apathy towards black tea, he believes the brand’s focus on quality and its £7m marketing commitment could make a big difference.

He concludes: “The fact that we were listed on the YouGov BrandIndex list for the second year running would suggest that there is buzz out there. If we can harness that and leverage it to drive positivity about category, we’d be in a good place.”

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