By Sam Molineaux
Global brands risk diluting their marketplace share and brand image by adopting a brand localization strategy. However, changes in consumer profile and a desire to cater to emerging markets can often force their hand. It’s a gamble, but the payoffs can be great: an expanded customer base and market share boost, not to mention a strong customer connection earned through the brand’s commitment to these new, local consumers.
When Lipton first found success in the tea business in the late 1800s, it was all about “massification”; a single Glasgow, Scotland based store had, by 1898, expanded into more than 200 “more-or-less identical shops the length and breadth of the United Kingdom,” wrote historian G.R. Searle in A New England? Peace and War, 1886–1918. This led to the ironing-out of regional variations in an attempt to maximize profits with a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Times change. As an international brand, Lipton has had to localize in several ways — introducing different teas in different regions worldwide, such as its Milk Tea, which caters to the East Asian market. Lipton’s 2014 relaunch of its famous Yellow Label Tea, with a new blend and enhanced flavor, was a deliberate attempt to woo a new generation of tea drinkers. In 2014 it also launched a new Earl Grey blend just for the European market, and PG Tips fruit and green teas only in the United Kingdom.
Twinings — known for its traditional Earl Grey, Lady Grey, Darjeeling, and Lapsang Souchong flavored teas — has in recent years expanded its offerings into fruit and herbal infusions, green teas and iced teas. After a successful UK marketing campaign in 2010 that targeted female tea drinkers, it has now turned its attention to Australia — specifically, Australian women.
“I am here to speak to as many Australian ladies as possible,” said Twinings master tea blender Philippa Thacker, who recently toured Down Under with 10th generation tea man and Director of Corporate Relations Stephen Twining. The Brisbane Times described the trip as a fact-finding mission to develop a blend especially for Australia.
In Brisbane, it reported, Thacker was inspired by the sunshine and tropical climate, and created a tea blend on the fly using two different types of black tea from Ceylon, citrus peel for flavor and marigold petals for effect, plus a dash of orange oil and mango oil to enhance the tropical flavors.
“Stephen Twining and I are doing a tour of the country to gather information on what Australian women want as a blend. What occasion they like to drink tea, whether they want something refreshing or a hug in a mug,” said Thacker.
The pair will boil their billies in several other Australian cities before reporting their findings back to UK HQ.
Searle, G.R. 2004. A New England? Peace and War, 1886–1918. Oxford University Press, 108.