When it comes to consumer products, packaging can distinguish your brand from your competitors. Like most consumer products, there are many choices and lots of competition for space on the shelf in the marketplace. So, how does your product stand out?
We are big tea drinkers. For the past few years, one brand has become more and more popular at our house. It has also grown its number of facings and choices on the store shelf.
The Republic of Tea is a brand that has some important characteristics that brand builders can certainly learn from. They have mastered the art of packaging and distribution management – which we believe are the keys to any brand’s success, especially in consumer products.
Why the “Republic” rules:
1. Packaging. Most brands of tea bags package their products in a cardboard box in a relatively standard size that will fit in a typical 3-inch clearance kitchen drawer, and are usually covered with clear cellophane and contain tea bags separately wrapped in additional packaging to preserve freshness. This “standard” packaging gives them all a relatively uniform appearance in the store. But not the Republic of Tea! They really thought out their packaging from many different angles, all designed to distinguish their brand from the “run of the mill.”
Instead of a box, they chose a cylindrical tin that has a decidedly higher stature on the shelf, adding to its perceived value. They “own” this shape, making it easy for their consumers to identify their products. The tin is tactile, easy to grab, and fits well in your hand. It’s also solid and sturdy while other tea packaging is rather flimsy by comparison. They developed a relatively airtight reseal-able cap so they don’t have to wrap each individual tea bag. Finally, they designed the bags as round “wafers” which stack 50 tea bags neatly and compactly in their 5-inch tall, 2 ½-inch diameter cylindrical tins – communicating an even greater perception of value. And yes, the tins fit on their sides in that standard kitchen drawer or upright in a handsome fashion on your cabinet shelf.
2. Theme. They’re having fun! They’re a “republic,” so they have “citizens” and “ministers” with official looking seals, such as the “approval” by the “Minister of Leaves.”
They also communicate popular environmentally conscious messages on their wrap-around label, including, “sustainable ingredients” and a “recyclable and reusable container.”
Validation is added with food show awards. Finally, each type of tea has a healthful descriptor highlighted on the label. “Longevity Tea” is one of our new favorites.
3. Choices. They offer many unique blends that have extended their line and, more importantly, their shelf presence in the marketplace. Even more choices are offered through their website.
4. Value. Every aspect of their packaging and label exudes value queues. There is a “tax stamp” protection seal on the top, an infographic that walks you through the tea making process, and a caffeine content chart. The color and texture choices on the label are indicative of an artful touch. Value is assured by the large seal that proclaims, “50 tea bags.”
The Republic of Tea has set the bar pretty high for the bagged tea business. They used their packaging to distinguish themselves and convey fun, value, and environmental awareness. We can learn a lot from their out-of-the-box thinking (literally). Oh, and we almost forgot, the teas have intense flavors and are quite delicious!
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders