Cultivating tea partnerships
Cultivating Innovative Partnerships to Build Your Brand
At The Tea Spot, we have benefitted from a variety of innovative partnerships – both formal and informal – since our very first days. These partnerships not only build our brand, but they also support the overall growth of the tea industry.
Here’s a review at some of the successful relationships we have enjoyed, which have helped build our expertise, drive awareness, create marketing buzz and ultimately, generate sales. And I encourage everyone in the tea industry to look for these opportunities as well.
Industry and Partnerships
As a newly Boulder, Colorado-based business in 2004, the general manager of Hain-Celestial at the time called and invited me to a one-on-one meeting, tour and lunch at its famed campus. She offered me invaluable insights and market information, and left the door open for reconnecting whenever we might need assistance in the future. Over the years, we’ve turned to Celestial for equipment and facility advice several times, and they’ve always been welcoming and accommodating. It’s nice to have that kind of a big corporate citizen in your backyard. I always remind myself of how they supported us when other brands reach out to us for advice and assistance.
In terms of industry-related partnerships, The Tea Spot was recently selected as one of five local food and beverage businesses to participate in the Boulder County Food & Beverage Pollution-Reduced Packaging Pilot, supported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The program, which provides technical and financial support via a grant, assists brands in the transition to pollution-reduced and sustainable packaging formats.
Industry partnerships like our local EPA-supported program, or industry support from a tea industry business or colleague, can be extremely invaluable for growing a tea business.
As developers of new functional botanical blends, we’re constantly experimenting with new ingredients, processes, formats, flavours and packaging to create products which need to be unique and differentiable enough to speak directly to our consumers. To secure space and increase sales in retail, we need to tell compelling brand stories. Today’s tea drinkers want to understand the brand where their product comes from, how it’s made and what its claims and credentials are. We strive to communicate as much information, as quickly as possible, through design.
In our packaging, as well as our products, design is the window into our brand story. Thus, creative partnerships with artists and designers have become a cornerstone of The Tea Spot brand. Our current designer, Emily Grace King, is the galleries exhibition manager at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities here in Colorado – and an artist in her own right. She shares The Tea Spot’s values and local roots, as well as our intense passion for innovation. Her ability to blend botanical art with accessible information and pertinent colors in our new line helps the packaging speak on its own.
Brand Partnerships: Innovation
Over the past few years, we’ve had the opportunity to advance our innovation in partnership with companies outside the tea industry, most notably with skin care developers and craft beverage companies. Our current collaboration, with Elevation Beer, a craft beer company in Poncha Springs, Colo., is bringing three of our top teas to market in a pilot of ready-to-drink (RTD) format. This partnership resulted out of working together, being open minded and sharing ideas. Elevation developed a line of hard tea seltzers (branded as “Summerville”) which gave us first-hand insight into their development and quality processes. Their exacting standards made the transition toward embracing the plan for an RTD format of our teas something we felt comfortable with. It takes commitment and a comfort in sharing risk and responsibility to create the right product in synergy with another party. Elevation is bringing capabilities to the table which are allowing us to achieve something we simply couldn’t.
Brand Partnerships: Marketing
The growth in premium tea over the past few years has been nothing short of exciting. It’s inspiring to be part of an industry sector which brings the greater community more choices of healthy beverages than ever. However, all the new and exciting products in our space means competition is increasingly fierce, so tea brands are constantly looking for new ways to engage customers while still staying true to their core values. Aligning with like-minded brands whose people already know and trust them can help gain exposure to a relevant new audience. In return, the partner brand can tap into our vibrant, rapidly expanding tea market. A successful marketing partnership will result in authentic new content which helps drive engagement amongst both brands’ audiences.
One of our most fond collaborations has been the co-branded tea and Steepware we created for Weight Watchers. Our shared values of supporting healthy lifestyle choices without compromising on delicious taste resonated with their community, making it a huge success.
We recently partnered with the non-profit charity: water as part of our 10% For Wellness program in our largest donation to date. For this partnership, we co-branded our 32-ounce tea tumbler with our logos and a gorgeous etched waterfall, from which 100 percent of profits go to fund clean water wells. The sale of each bottle provides access to clean water for one person in need, and our full commitment to fund ten clean wells will impact roughly 2,500 people’s lives. This shared goal of spreading wellness and health hydration between our two brands makes this partnership one that resonates with our customers as well as their donor community.
Collaborations have been some of the most rewarding experiences of our business over the years, and we look forward to exploring many more. Innovative collaborations help build a brand, and they help build the tea industry at large.
- Maria Uspenski is the founder and CEO of The Tea Spot. She’s also the author of Cancer Hates Teaand a certified tea and fitness nutrition expert. To learn more, visit TheTeaSpot.com.