Twinings Tea

How to create a product even competitors will buy from you

This time I’m writing about Twinings, probably the most famous tea brand in the world? My view here is how Twinings started acquiring its first clients, how tea was introduced and also how they made it affordable. Previous to that, it was only reserved to rich people, costing the equivalent of as much as £1,600 for a kilo, mostly due to high taxation!

Problems

Can you imagine the water at that time being so polluted that the high class were drinking coffee, beer and even gin during breakfast?

Solution

Combining his passion and knowledge acquired while working for an experienced merchant from East India Company, Thomas Twining bought a coffee house and added tea to the menu, an unknown beverage back then. He started selling brewed and dry teas in his coffee house. A/B testing in 1706?

After some years, dry tea took over the coffee and was selling more than the rest. Probably the 80/20 rule in action?

The coffee house was then pivoted and the main focus shifted to dry tea.

How the first clients were acquired

The coffee house was his platform to test the market, selling both dry and brew versions of tea. Expanding the coffee house to give more space to dry tea proved successful, after the a/b testing.

Distribution channels

  1. The coffee house, gathering the upper class living nearby, was the first and main point of distribution.

  2. Twinings also supplied its tea to other coffee houses, converting competition into clients.

  3. Later on, Thomas’ son, Daniel, started exporting to the US.

Competition

Coffee houses were booming at that time and to gain over the competitors, Twinings unique selling point was Thomas’ tea knowledge. This passion and knowledge proved to be a powerful combination and shortly competitors became clients, paying the equivalent of £160 for 100g of tea!

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on what is working after running tests, in this case, dry tea

  • Have an unique selling point to differentiate from competition

  • Passion and knowledge can be a powerful weapon to differentiate and win clients, including competitors

  • Start with one distribution channel, but think of having more than one

Timeline


Industry Today

Ceylon Black Tea conducts first e-auction which allowed tea buyers and sellers virtually connect and keep their businesses running, usually held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, is among the biggest in the world. The MVP was created in 6 days.


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References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twinings

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Twining_(merchant)

https://www.twinings.co.uk/about-twinings/history-of-twinings

https://theculturetrip.com/europe/united-kingdom/england/london/articles/twinings-on-the-strand-a-sip-of-history/

https://www.anglotopia.net/british-history/twinings-british-tea-company/

https://www.pureceylontea.com/ceylon-black-tea-rich-in-theaflavins-conducts-its-very-first-successful-e-auction/

https://www.dailynews.lk/2020/04/22/local/216979/sip-zip-tea-auction-goes-high-tech