Green is the new black

By Rashmi Menon , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing
Last updated : February 12, 2014
In its latest campaign, Tetley talks about the health benefits of green tea, particularly, body detoxification. Meanwhile, Lipton Green Tea has launched its first national campaign, which talks about the product's 'zero calorie' proposition. A look at the category these brands operate in.


Riding on the 'healthy' attributes of the beverage, two green tea brands - Tata Global Beverages' Tetley and HUL's Lipton Green Tea - recently launched a high-decibel campaign each, in a bid to promote green tea consumption. While Tetley's campaign (created by Lowe Lintas & Partners) focuses on how green tea cleanses the body, summed up in its tagline 'Insidewallah snaan', Lipton Green Tea's campaign (created by DDB Mudra) underscores the weight issue through its promising tagline 'Feel light. Feel Active'. This is Lipton's first national campaign for the variant.

The primary target group (TG) at play here is consumers within the 18-35 years age bracket (for regular tea, it is 15 years and above), who are health conscious to the extent of tweaking their lifestyle and making small changes to it, unlike 'health freaks' who're willing to go to extreme lengths in the name of health.

Notably, Lipton Green Tea's TG comprises young urban women, who are health conscious and driven to shift towards healthier food options.

The green tea market, less than one per cent of the country's total tea market, is worth about Rs 100-150 crore. And brands are confident this segment will grow with sustained communication, distribution and sampling efforts.

Vikram Grover

Green tea is made from Camellia sinensis leaves and is exposed to minimum oxidation during processing. Although green tea finds its roots in China, it has been cultivated in India since the 20th century, primarily in the Kangra Valley (Himachal Pradesh) and the Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu). Of course, the taste and quality differs depending on the surrounding environment.

Both Tetley and Lipton Green Tea entered the green tea market around the same time, around five years ago. And, interesting, both claim to be market leaders.

Niche to Mass

Despite becoming a 'buzz' word among health conscious consumers in recent times, the consumption of green tea, in comparison to regular tea (black tea with milk), is low. Two reasons: it's an acquired taste and the preparation technique varies from that of 'regular' (black) tea.

Here's a quick price comparison: Both Tetley and Lipton Green Tea's pack of 10 tea bags is priced at around Rs 60. Tetley's loose packaged tea is priced at Rs 180 for 250 grams; the same quantity in regular (black) tea, which may last a fortnight or 20 days, depending on usage, costs about Rs 90-Rs 135.

Tata's Grover says the brand's business insights revealed that green tea is mostly consumed by the upper end of the society. "In offices, including ours, we see green tea comprising 30-40 per cent of the total tea cups people drink. So, our conclusion is that if you step out of our offices and look at second rung India, the consumption of green tea is next to nothing," he says, adding that the objective of the campaign is to grow the business among other social groups of society and thereby make it a mass beverage.

This is the reason the brand has inducted fitness conscious actor Kareena Kapoor as its ambassador - she's a celebrity whose appeal cuts across different strata of society.

Prior to the ideation stage of the campaign, the brand team, we learn, met green tea consumers and tried to understand what motivated them to drink it. The team found that the main reason was the belief that a stressful, hectic lifestyle (something many young professionals are guilty of) leads to degradation of one's body. This was how the team zeroed in on the detoxification proposition for the ad campaign.

Meanwhile, Lipton Green Tea has roped in actor Anushka Sharma as its brand endorser.

Beyond TVC

Besides reaching out to the masses through TV, Tetley intends to educate consumers, through the digital and mobile space, about the methods of preparing green tea. The brand has also cracked an interesting retail and distribution level method of driving sales. The team has identified shops that sell oats; after all, even a brand is known by the company it keeps.

This is part of the company's effort to increase its footprint across the country through what it calls predictive analysis. "We are not expanding only in outlets that currently sell green tea but are also doing some predictive work based on the size of other health categories to understand which kind of outlets green tea would sell in. One of the co-relations we have found is that outlets that sell green tea are also likely to sell oats. Now, oats has got wider distribution in certain parts of the country than green tea. So, in these parts, we are going to target outlets that sell large quantities of oats," explains Grover.

Interestingly, the brand is particularly focused on the Southern market, as the region is a "more evolved and developed" market as far as green tea is concerned. As a result, in this region, the brand intends to also penetrate towns with a population as low as one lakh (as opposed to towns with a population of five lakh, in other regions).

In the days ahead, Tetley will also focus on packaged green tea (it is currently available in tea bags). The reason for this is that though initially consumers prefer using tea bags, as the market for the product develops, the preference shifts to packaged tea, as it offers better value for money. Again, this product format will also be pushed aggressively in the Southern market, where, Grover believes, consumption of green tea has already developed.

But wouldn't an increase in green tea share cannibalise the brand's regular tea share? Grover isn't concerned. On the contrary, he says while green tea will remain a supplementary drink for now, the value realisation that manufacturers in India get for green tea is significantly higher than what they get for regular tea. Even the margins they tend to make are significantly higher at this point in time. Therefore, even if there is a small amount of cannibalisation, it's actually beneficial for manufacturers.

Since green tea is an acquired taste, Tetley has attempted to customise flavours to better suit the Indian palette. At present, the brand offers green tea in the following flavours: aloe vera, cinnamon and honey and citrus spice.

Even Lipton Green Tea offers four choices of flavours - pure, citrus, mint and jasmine.

Incremental Drink

Since the Indian palette is accustomed to regular tea, a major chunk of the volume that green tea gets is in addition to conventional tea consumption and not in exclusivity.

Grover explains that when people feel they need a 'pick me up' beverage or need mental or physical stimulation, they drink regular tea. But during the course of the day, they may drink green tea to counter the negative effects of a heavy snack. Or, they may drink green tea simply because they are lifestyle/health conscious. Given this situation, green tea is most likely to be consumed between mid-morning and afternoon; it is rarely the first cup in the morning.

And would consumers give up their daily morning chai fix? Not for all the tea in China! As Grover, points out, the motivation to drink regular tea in this country is high and "multi-faceted." It can be had as a "social drink, an individual drink, as a relaxing drink or even an energising drink." In our country, the poor often consume it to suppress hunger.

Interestingly, Lipton's campaign urges consumers to switch over to green tea from regular tea.

First Published : February 12, 2014
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