To start we are going to look at the information collected by One River Tea and myself. We will go through it group by group and then discuss overarching trends. The survey gave takers a series of variables such as growing elevation and asked them to rate it 1-5. A score represented that it was very important to them, one being that it wasn’t.
All Respondents: Out of all respondents (about 150), processing method was most valuable to people while the ground elevation was the least important. The decrease in the importance of growing elevation is a sign of a changing market in this author’s opinion. I remember around 2013 elevation was on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Looking at the chart it would seem that the market doesn’t care as much about elevation. This is not exactly true and we will talk about why not soon. What makes me happy when I see this chart is the high-value score of processing methods. Processing is the most important factor for tea drinkers. To me, this is also the most important thing.
Take-Aways: This survey was meant to help tea sellers market their tea and I think it is doing just that. Those who sell tea should walk away with at least the idea that they should be talking more about how their tea was processed because that is what matters most to buyers.
Loose Leaf Drinkers: Looking at the numbers for loose leaf drinkers, the first thing that sticks out is the elevated value in elevation. Out of all drinkers, elevation was the least important, but in this category, it is second to the top. Taking the ribbon of last place is social justice matters. I would credit this low score to the fact that not many people in the tea industry talk about social justice. This is in contrast to the coffee market where a companies trade and buying practices are much more at the forefront of its brand. I think the reason this aspect isn’t seen as much in tea has to do with the small scale of the average company. Most companies selling in the western Chinese tea market are less than five people. This means we see how they buy and source much more than your large-scale coffee company. Sourcing photos and videos and stress on farmer relations are standard for most companies trying to make it in the niche market of Chinese tea. When companies get bigger and their buying practices are as visual is when I feel customers need assurance that there is fair trade going on. Processing methods take the gold in this category.
Take away: The loose-leaf section is similar to the all respondents section with the exception that elevation is more important to lose leaf drinkers.
Non-loose leaf drinkers: This is where things start to get interesting. First of all, we see a very low score in the section on the importance of elevation. So low in fact that it brought down the overall score considerably. The non-loose leaf drinkers section is interesting that it even exists. Chances are that if you are taking a survey offered by ORT and myself you are not a teabag user. The people who click our links are more likely to be loose tea drinkers who have a higher than average interest in tea. That being said it’s interesting to get an idea of a market that is probably bigger than the loose-leaf market….for now. In this area, we see the lowest concern for growing elevation. I would contribute this to the fact that many teabag companies don’t talk about elevation. I would contribute that to the fact that tea bags are mostly from lower elevation plantations. The companies don’t talk about it so the consumers don’t think about it. This idea of the companies influencing the consumer was brought up in my most recent post about expensive teas. (link) Social Justice was most important to non-loose leaf drinkers.
As a non-loose leaf drinker, I can only speculate, but I think this is related to the reason loose leaf drinkers are not concerned with this mentioned above. Teabag companies tend to be bigger. They rarely release sourcing videos come tea season. Therefore, teabag drinkers are more concerned with social justice such as fair trade practices. That being said, they care less about it than other groups. In fact, they care less about everything than other groups. This is probably the most interesting thing for me about this group, they are much less concerned with almost everything compared to other groups. In three of the categories, non-loose leaf tea drinkers give the lowest score of importance to that variable. Out of five, non-loose leaf drinkers gave nothing a score of three or over. Why is this? My best guess is that we were asking them the wrong questions. Obviously they care enough about tea to answer a survery, but the questions here were created with more serious drinkers in mind. Non-loose leaf drinkers may be more concerned with things like packaging, convenient of drinking, ingredient and price.
Take away: If you are selling to non-loose leaf drinkers, geeky tea facts are not the way to go. Even health benefits which held the second highest score of importance, didn’t even break 3 points. (Surprised there too). Packaging and branding may be more of a focus for the non-loose market.
High Spenders: My personal home this is the group. This is the group where I would place myself. First and foremost we see that processing is the most important thing, followed by elevation. High Spenders care more about proccessing than anyone else as well as elevation. High spenders want to see what goes into their tea. Why does it taste the way it tastes. High spenders care less about health benefits than anyone else. And compared to general loose leaf drinkers they care less about organic. Social Justice is also important to big spenders. High spenders tend to be the people who are very into tea and see value in purchasing a high priced tea. That being said they want to make sure they are getting their moneys worth. They want to see information that is going to make them feel as though they are going to get a good flavor for what they pay for.
Take aways: If you are going to sell to high spenders cut out the extra shit. High Spenders want to see how their tea is made, they want to see exactly what they are paying for. Their interest in social justice may be a part of brand relation. They want to feel
Frequent Green Tea Drinkers: The singularing out of green tea drinkers was done because this survey was inspired by a survey done in done solely on En Shi Yulu, a green tea, as we as to get an insight into the green tea market which is an interesting market for reasons we can talk about in another post. When comparing frequent green tea drinkers to other categories you see some interesting patterns. For starts, as with other drinkers, they place the highest value on processing. From there though they take a turn. Their second highest value is social justice. Looking at the data I have to make a guess that green tea drinkers and high spenders overlap. (green teas aint cheap). This might explain the similar numbers of these two groups as well as the fact that both groups are .4 points above the average which is a solid deviation. Frequent green tea drinkers also show more interest in organic than other categories. This may be because there is more of a fear of mass produced green tea and thus use of chemicals.
Take Away: Organic status is worth mentioning when you are selling green teas.