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Tea…it’s more than just a nice, hot, beverage to us Brits. We absolutely adore the stuff, the love affair between the UK and tea is a tale as old as time. As the nation’s beverage of choice in times of distress, celebration and just setting us up for the day ahead, there is no better brew to admire than a lovely cup of Yorkshire Tea.

Less than a decade ago, Yorkshire Tea was the fourth biggest tea brand in the market, but that “proper brew” is now Britain’s top tea brand, demonstrating the strongest growth amongst it’s set. This is no mean feat to achieve in a market that has been in constant decline and where we are very particular and loyal to our favourite brand. Couple that with the “squeeze” on household budgets, the “squeeze” on production and supply costs, as well as blogs encouraging people to “squeeze” more than one cup out of a teabag. I was intrigued to find out how Yorkshire Tea did it…and continue to “milk it” in the black tea world.

Marketing Insight: Yorkshire Tea didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of its beloved brew

As is often the case, it wasn’t one insight or tactic that led to this impressive shift in share of market and brand positioning, but one commonality was a bravery and belief in innovation to drive a real step change.

Firstly, despite many competitors lowering prices to compete with own brands and to increase volume of sales, Yorkshire Tea has always had an unwavering dedication to quality, understanding that people will pay for that. Speaking with The Grocer, Senior Brand Manager, Liz Griffin, explained that, “a quarter of tea drinkers say they’re particular about the tea they drink and are willing to pay more for it. With consumers delaying major purchases, the impact of everyday items that feel a bit indulgent and perk your day up has increased. There’s something really comforting in a traditional brew.” So, we learn our first lesson, never sacrifice the quality of our beloved brew.

Media Innovation: dominating share of voice via TV: The brand also found itself in a position where its competitors were decreasing advertising spend against the backdrop of a declining market and increasing costs. Yorkshire Tea grasped the opportunity to grow share of voice and it paid off. Remarkably, in some instances over the previous five years, Yorkshire Tea had been the sole black tea brand advertising on television. This strategic investment in advertising yielded significant results for the brand. Matt Hill, Director of Research & Planning at Thinkbox highlighting how in 2022, Yorkshire Tea dominated the traditional tea advertising market on TV with an impressive 45% share of voice (SOV). Yorkshire Tea’s market share soared from 20% back in 2015 to nearly 34% in recent years, a truly remarkable achievement. This incredible growth can be attributed to the tangible benefits of maintaining a strong SOV.

Research from econometric agency, Gain Theory, sheds light on the relationship between a brand’s SOV and its price sensitivity. According to its findings, there is a rule-of-thumb correlation that a 10% increase in a brand’s SOV can lead to a 5-20% reduction in its price sensitivity. This occurs because brands with a stronger SOV, backed by robust advertising efforts, are better equipped to maintain market share, and preserve profit margins even in the thick of price increases. Consumers tend to perceive these brands as more trustworthy and valuable, meaning that they will continue to be the ‘go to’ brands despite having higher prices.

 Campaigns, celebs and reigniting the spark for Yorkshire Tea consumers

Yorkshire Tea has also placed huge value on brand creativity and humour. It has created a distinct brand identity that resonates with consumers on a personal level; from its unmistakable Yorkshire roots to its humorous and relatable marketing campaigns. The brand has successfully connected with its target audience by infusing its marketing efforts with authenticity and wit. This is all underpinned by the brand platform ‘Where Everything is Done Proper’. Developed in collaboration with Lucky Generals, the long-running campaign leveraged the star power of Yorkshire-born celebrities such as Sir Patrick Stewart, Michael Parkinson and The Kaiser Chiefs, and the brand aimed to reconnect with consumers and reintroduce them to the brand’s values and heritage. Through these familiar and well-known faces, the brand aimed to create a sense of trust and familiarity, encouraging consumers to rediscover the quality and authenticity that Yorkshire Tea offers.

’Where Everything is Done Proper’ redefined Yorkshire Tea as synonymous with excellence in every aspect. By positioning the brand as one that upholds the highest standards in everything it does, Yorkshire Tea reinforced its identity as a premium choice among tea drinkers.

Accelerating Growth: Marketing down to a Tea

Yorkshire Tea has never lost sight of its brand identity, has never sacrificed its quality or been afraid to maintain its price premium. It understands how to engage with consumers in humorous, authentic ways to make sure people know why they’re paying more and why they should want to. The brand took brave, but sensible decisions with marketing budgets to grow share of voice, even when bigger competitors had pulled back from the market. Yorkshire Tea continues to reap the rewards today. And that’s how you do proper marketing REET good.

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