Superbrands case studies: Typhoo

Originally published in 'Consumer Superbrands Volume VI', July 2004. The book reviews the UK's strongest consumer brands as judged by an independent Judging Panel.

Case study provided by Superbrands.

Tea is Britain's favourite drink with 91% of the UK population consuming it, creating a market worth £557 million. Tea is a fundamental part of daily life for most consumers, and is drunk for a number of different occasions and needs. Tea satisfies both functional and emotional needs; for example, not only can it refresh, warm up and relax you but can act also as an ice-breaker at social gatherings. The tea market has shown a small decline in recent years.

Ordinary tea bags take the largest share of the tea market, with a 77% share, but it is the emerging sectors, such as Decaf, Fruit and Herb, Organic and Green teas, which are showing the strongest growth, albeit from a smaller base. For example, the Fruit and Herb sector is worth £26 million and is showing growth but currently accounts for less than 5% of the total tea market in terms of value (Source: ACNielsen MAT January 24 2004).

However, the tea market is currently in a state of flux. The hot drinks category is under pressure from the growing sectors of soft drinks and mineral water, which is favoured particularly by the younger generation. However, studies into the demographics of the UK, illustrate that as a nation we are getting a lot older and that the UK is, in fact, an ageing society.

Manufacturers have acknowledged the need to appeal to all age groups and, in recent times, have focused on modernising their images, with new advertising campaigns and packaging and design innovations, in ways that younger consumers will find fun and relevant without alienating the older consumers.

Typhoo has over 100 years of heritage and in this time, has gone from being the first brand to sell ready packaged tea, to being one of the only brands that offers a product in virtually every sector within the tea category.

The first brand to vacuum pack the majority of its tea at source, Typhoo continues to pack its round teabags into foil pouches holding only 40 teabags; an innovation which others within the category have copied, as it helps keep the tea fresher for longer. Typhoo is one of the top three brands in the category alongside PG Tips and Tetley; and has over 8% value share of the UK tea market (Source: ACNielsen MAT January 24th 04). A venerable brand that is highly trusted with over 70% spontaneous awareness, Typhoo has all the credentials of a truly classic British brand.

Tea is nearly 5,000 years old and was discovered, as legend has it, in 2737 BC by a Chinese emperor when some tea leaves accidentally blew into a pot of boiling water. The first European to personally encounter tea and write about it was the Portuguese Jesuit Father, Jasper de Cruz, in 1560 as Portugal was the first to gain the right of trade with China.

The first samples of tea reached England between 1652 and 1654 and quickly proved popular enough to replace ale as the national drink of England. The first record of adding milk to tea was recorded in 1680.

The popularity of the beverage continued to rise and importation rose from 40,000lbs in 1699 to an annual average of 240,000lbs by 1708. By the late 1880s top hotels in England began to offer tea service in tea rooms and tea courts. Served in the late afternoon, Victorian ladies would meet for tea and conversation. At the beginning of the 1900s, hotels began to host afternoon tea dances as dance crazes began to sweep the UK.

Typhoo was launched in 1903 by Birmingham grocer John Sumner, after his sister Mary had highly regarded tea as a cure for indigestion. Her enthusiasm for the product encouraged John to develop a blend and sell it in his shop.

Sumner set himself three criteria when choosing a name for his blend of tea. Firstly, the name had to be distinctive and unlike others. In addition, it had to be a name which would roll off the tongue as well as being one, which could be protected by registration.

He finally came up with Typhoo Tipps Tea -- 'Typhoo' meaning in part the Chinese word for 'doctor'. Sumner stuck with the name as he felt that it sounded authoritative, was alliterative an therefore highly memorable for his consumers.

The word 'Tipps', however, could not be registered but it appeared on packets for years and was imitated by many other brands - right down to the misspelling of the word 'tips'. The double 'p' was originally a printing error. Typhoo grew dramatically from this base, in the face of much competition from other established and new competitors and, in 1968, merged with Schweppes.

A year later, Cadbury's also joined the conglomeration, creating Cadbury Schweppes Typhoo. In 1986, however, Typhoo was sold in a management buyout and the new company was called Premier Brands. Since its subsequent takeover by the American venture capitalists Hillsdown Holdings and then Hicks Muse Tate and Furst, Typhoo has been manufactured by Premier Foods.

As well as Typhoo, Premier Foods owns several other established tea brands, such as the Ridgways Organic brand, and Heath and Heather. There have been many product developments over the years to cater for consumers' changing needs, not only in packaging innovations but in the varieties of tea offered, with Decaf, Green Tea Blend and Fruit and Herb amongst some of the things included in the Typhoo range.

All tea comes from the same tree, Camellia Sinensis, which originates from China. Three basic types are produced, namely: black, green and oolong. In Britain the most popular products are made from black tea, however green tea Typhoo blends are growing in popularity albeit from a low base. Typhoo were the first to introduce a green tea blend into the market in 1999. Tea for the Typhoo blend is sourced from many different high quality tea producing countries. The backbone of the blend is vacuum packed Assam tea, the main tea growing area in the North Eastern part of Assam. The vacuum packed Assam tea has a malty, smooth character.

The blend includes further high grown teas from the quality tea growing areas in Eastern Africa and Southern India. The combination of all these teas ensures that Typhoo consistently delivers a smooth, refreshing, 'golden' cup of tea, which caters specifically for the demands of the UK consumers.Typhoo is ideally suited to be drunk with milk and with sugar if so desired.

As well as ordinary teabags, Typhoo is also a very strong brand in other tea sectors. It is the biggest growing decaffeinated brand and has 38% of the market and is brand leader in this sector.Typhoo is also brand leader with its Typhoo QT and Typhoo One Cup (Source: ACNielsen MAT January 24 2004).

Recent Developments
In May 2004, the brand successfully launched Typhoo Fruit and Herb, which is the first time that the brand has moved away from black tea based beverages and into the fruit and herb sector. Typhoo Fruit and Herb offers a range of fruity drinks that not only smell of fruit, but deliver on taste too. This is largely attributable to a unique process that enables the product to be made with real fruit, hence the 'for juicier flavour' strapline seen on all consumer communication including the packs; which have been designed to create that all important taste appeal on in-store fixtures.

2004 also sees the brand sponsoring LK Today on GMTV for a second year running. A first in the history of the show in 2003, the sponsorship runs for another year, and gives the opportunity to really communicate with the consumer when many feel in need a cup of tea.

The new campaign further develops the strategy of owning the first cup of tea of the day, and the new strapline, 'Typhoo.The better way to wake up' will run across all advertising, packaging and point of sale.

The Typhoo brand was relaunched in April 2002, as a result of a £5 million overhaul of the brand. The aim was to position the brand as a contemporary, refreshing drink that would appeal to 35-55 year olds. Typhoo introduced new packaging that crossed the entire range, with a striking red livery and a modernised logo, as well as a 'window' effect which enables the purchaser to see the foil packaging inside the box. The revised look stood out on shelves and successfully drove sales.

Typhoo's 2004 activity includes a new TV ad campaign, which focuses on the idea of 'Typhoo Versus' where a family who normally wake up by drinking Typhoo are challenged to test the 'wake up power' of alternative methods, such as a Cockerel or a Drill Sergeant. The adverts have deliberately been developed to get consumers to reappraise the Typhoo brand.

The sponsorship of LK Today will this time be used to communicate other variants within the Typhoo family such as Typhoo Decaf. Also available is the new Typhoo website, which will feature regular updates and new offers from Typhoo, as well as items like brand history and product range.

Brand Values
The key qualities of Typhoo are freshness and premium quality but it also has less obvious brand values that distinguish it from its rivals. From the beginning,Typhoo has been an active, revitalising and uplifting brand, refreshing both mind and body. This idea of revitalising its drinkers has featured in one form or another in all Typhoo's marketing, and continues right up to the present day.

Things you didn't know about Typhoo
Typhoo was the first brand to be sold prepackaged rather than loose over the counter. At the time, it was believed to have medicinal qualities and was sold through chemists' shops. The slogan on the first label read 'Typhoo, the tea that doctors recommend.'

The beverage's curative qualities were ascribed to the purity of Typhoo's 'leaf-edge' tea, compared to more ordinary varieties. During World War 1, when the Government bought up and rationed tea stocks, Typhoo inserted circulars into packs urging customers to complain. The 'tea controller', deluged with letters, finally relented and Typhoo was made freely available.

To make the perfect cup of tea and to draw out the best flavour of the tea the water must contain oxygen, this is reduced if the water is boiled more than once.

The custom of tipping originated from English Tea Gardens where small, locked wooden boxes were placed on the tables inscribed with the letters TIPS which stood for 'To Insure Prompt Service'. If one wished the waiter to hurry, one would drop a coin into the box on being seated.

(c) 2004 Superbrands Ltd

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