Teavana Finds Nirvana at Target

Cyndi Loza
Managing Editor, Member Content, P2PI
Cyndi Loza profile picture

How does a brand spotlight a line of new premium teas at a retailer that doesn’t heavily promote the brew in stores? Cortne Younk, Nestle Starbucks Coffee's manager, shopper marketing - Target, and her team tackled this question and more when they partnered with Target — where tea rarely receives display space — on a program for the launch of Teavana super-premium hot tea sachets.

“We didn’t have incremental space — we weren't given an endcap or a shipper — so we really had to make this program work even harder for us … not only to drive trial and awareness at the beginning stages, but see that sustained throughout the weeks,” Younk told P2PI. 

Teavana hot tea sachets rolled out to Walmart stores in June, Target in August and nationally in September. Currently priced at about $5.50 for a 15-count pack, the super-premium teas are available in six flavors: "Youthberry," "Peach Tranquility," "Citrus Lavender," "Jade Citrus Mint," "Imperial Spiced Chai," and "Earl Grey Creme." 

"What’s different about Teavana is that it’s all based on taste and these creative kind of tea combinations," Younk said. "The first thing that you’ll see when you open up one of our packages and look at one of our sachets is that they’re see-through and that’s on purpose. You see the real fruit and the botanical pieces … You can really see, touch and smell the difference of Teavana compared to other super-premium teas."

Despite its reputation for eschewing tea display space, Target is a very important player in the tea category. The retailer’s market share of packaged tea is 6.5% of total U.S. tea sales, Younk noted. Moreover, super-premium tea accounts for nearly 12% of Target tea sales compared to 4.1% across all other measured outlets (such as food, drug, mass, club, etc). "So, they are winning in tea, but have a true love for super-premium tea," Younk said.

Target’s core, digitally connected Millennials shoppers are also a key demographic for the brand. "We found that 87% of Millennials drink tea and are entering the category through premium and super premium," Younk said. "So, when it came time to launch Teavana, we knew that they were the right partner to not only bring this newness in to the category but also help drive new users in to the category."

The Teavana hot tea shopper program at Target was designed to build awareness, drive trial and build baskets among those new Millennial tea drinkers as well as drive super-premium trade up, Younk said. The program’s in-store efforts included September sampling demonstrations with tabletop signage positioning the teas as new at the mass merchant. Additional demonstrations in October were staged to let shoppers sample both Teavana hot tea and ready-to-drink iced tea beverages, the latter of which Starbucks rolled out to select markets last year in partnership with Anheuser-Busch. Coupons were also affixed to the iced tea beverages via hangtags offering 75 cents off a Teavana hot tea purchase.

The program also included creating “house parties” via Irvington, New York-based Ripple Street (formerly House Party), a company that brings brand-sponsored parties to consumer homes. A total of 400 house parties were staged with each host receiving a party kit including: 

  • a $25 Target gift card to purchase the Teavana SKUs, 
  • a competitor’s (Numi) tea bag for party participants to compare it to Teavana tea, 
  • hot tea sachet coupons, and
  • Teavana-branded paper cups. 

"By asking hosts to share these experiences on their social pages and invite friends over to try Teavana, we’re able drive awareness of the Teavana portfolio and encourage purchase," said Younk, adding the effort also helped drive traffic to Target, increase reach and impressions, boost social media activity and generate 600 product reviews. “It was really a home run for us in our minds.”

Additionally, the brand engaged 10 influencers "who share a love of premium tea and Target” to try Teavana hot tea sachets and crafted iced teas, Younk said. Each influencer posted about their experience with Teavana and shared it across their social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest). The Chambray Bunny and Sophisticated Whimsy were the top two performing influencers, Younk said. The marketing plan also included: 

  • digital ads on and external ad units across both desktop and mobile (with a heavy focus on mobile), and 
  • an ad search campaign on sponsored by Paris-based Criteo, a third-party vendor that works with retailers to boost products to the top of search results.

As far as post-program performance and metrics, Younk said sales have performed extremely well, exceeding two times the original forecast. Moreover, Teavana has captured 27.7% share of the super-premium tea over the last four weeks, making it the second-largest super-premium tea brand at Target. 

For a look at more images from this program, visit Path to Purchase Institute members have access to more than 6,500 images and 1,170 articles of marketing and merchandising activity at Target, along with a full Retailer Profile outlining the chain’s operations and strategies.