Is tea a commodity product? No it isn’t. And if you are planning to get into the tea business, than read this article first. Many tea business have a hard time in the beginning phase, because they start thinking about things such as the packaging and the design of the tea shop or online tea store. However, they forgot to ask themselves the single most important question: What tea am I going to sell?
It’s important to start with this basic question, because you’re probably not the only one in your city that sells tea. Or if you are going online, you are most likely not the only online tea store that has a social/online presence. The key is that you have to make choices and tell your audience how you are different and why they should buy from you. Read below in what ways you can be different:
Bags versus Loose: The majority of tea drinkers today are still preferring tea bags over loose tea. The main reason is that tea bags are easier to steep. On the other hand, loose tea is much less consumed, but the market is growing faster.
Blend versus Pure: Are you going to focus on being authentic and sell pure tea? Or are you going to go for blends and make cool commercial teas to seduce the customer?
Tea Types:: Though most tea business try to sell different tea types from green, black to white teas, some others are focusing on one particular type of tea. There are for example many pu erh tea stores that are specialized only in this tea type.
Geography: Besides tea types, you can also specialize in tea from a certain country or even region. Teasenz.com is for example specialized in only authentic tea from China.
Tea versus tea ware: You don’t have to sell tea to be in the tea business. Instead, you could go into tea ware or accessories that make the steeping process more convenient and/or more enjoyable. Very often, tea business decide to sell both, as they are complementary products. It takes some courage to go into tea ware only, but if you do so, you might look much more specialized and professional in the eyes of the tea shopper.
While you don’t have to make a choice for each of the above consideration, I do advice to do that for at least one factor above. For instance, you could decide to only focus only on loose tea, but you do want to offer all tea types, from different countries, and sell blends as well as pure tea.
Final note: Many successful tea entrepreneurs, actually started out of frustration that they couldn’t get certain teas or blends they had in mind, so they created it themselves. Or they found the steeping process to cumbersome and came up with their own tea ware. They have an advantage from the start, because they started with an identified problem that they experienced themselves, and later on they discovered that they weren’t alone! So my advice would be to listen to yourself for business inspirations, and ask others to validate your ideas.
Unless, you sell internationally, it’s most likely not wise to narrow down your market too much, because you end up in a market that is too small.
In reality, most local tea stores tend keep their offerings as broad as possible so they are able to make most customers happy. In addition, there are usually not that many competing tea stores in the neighborhood, so that specialization is not as necessary.
If you are an online business, it’s a different story. The most visitors will come from Google search, and you will have to specialize to make sure you are different from all the other tea stores that rank in Google.
This post is part of a series of articles about How To Start A Tea Business.