Tea up footfall

Tetley Tea advert

Under coronavirus, tea remains a vital footfall driver for local retailers and the category is in strong growth over the last few months.


As restrictions continue to affect everyday life and the call to shop locally and support local businesses grows, the role of local retailers and the service they provide to communities is growing in importance. Social distancing and other restrictions mean that footfall has taken a hit over the last seven or eight months, but massively increased basket spends have more than compensated for the lower number of shoppers visiting stores.

A key challenge for retailers then is to focus on growing footfall once more and a great way of doing that is by focusing on the product categories that bring shoppers to their doors on a regular basis. One such category is tea.

Across Scotland tea sales have remained strong, with volume sales of tea overall up 3.8% in the 12 weeks to 3.10.20 [AC Nielsen] and up 2.6% in value. Aside from sales of green tea which have seen a slight fall, all other categories are showing growth:

  • every day black up 3.3%
  • fruit and herbals up 5.4%
  • decaf up 13.4%
  • redbush up 12%.

The appeal of tea

The figures are an encouraging sign of tea’s popularity and the appeal of tea presents opportunities for sales. Sourced from natural ingredients and naturally low in caffeine, tea fits well with the desire for a healthier lifestyle, something very much front of mind just now. It can help contribute to our daily fluid intake and has good associations with taking a soothing break or as a social facilitator to catch up with others.

With many different flavours and formats, both hot and cold, there really is a tea for everyone and tea shoppers are good for sales, often bringing larger baskets with companion items like biscuits, milk, or breakfast products.

Current trends

Kantar figures show that the numbers buying tea and the spend per buyer have both gone up and Tetley still has the largest number of buyers and the greatest household penetration up 4% YOY.

Everyday black teas still dominate sales, but shoppers are adding different teas into their selection which is particularly benefitting sales in ‘healthy’ sectors like decaf, fruit & herbal and redbush.

Another area of interest is Cold Infusions, ideal to drop into cold water to perk it up with a fruity burst of flavour. Great for everyday hydration on warmer days.

What best to stock

Tea shoppers like brands and if you don’t stock what they want they will go elsewhere.

Think about what types of tea will suit your customers best, a green and fruit & herbal offering plus an essential decaf to complement everyday black is a good place to start. Try to site companion products close by, or secondary site tea with items that go well with tea occasions.

Size, Value and Shopper Loyalty

With more people opting to shop locally, the type of packs they are looking for is changing too. Smaller pack sizes of 40s and 80s continue to do well for local stores, but larger packs sizes like 160s and even 240s are fast becoming essential stocks.

The offer of a safe place to shop, combined with assurance of value will be increasingly important to maintain customer loyalty. Price mark packs and packs with extra free will grow in importance in the battle for customer retention – 82% of shoppers actively seek them out when shopping (Lumina Intelligence).

Reaching customers

Throughout the most challenging times Tetley has continued to support the brand with its Now We’re Talking television ads and a series on online campaigns. The reach of the campaign has been significant.

With more social media followers than any other tea brand, digital marketing has a prominent role in Tetley’s marketing, combined with traditional advertising and sampling in select magazines: Tetley interacts and engages with different groups to create desire for tea and drive sales.

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