Changing the way that Fruit and Herbal teas are viewed in the UK


Sometimes the best insights are obvious with hindsight. This becomes even more the case when the insights in question lead to a structural change in the way that a whole category is positioned and communicated.

Background – A large range with sales focusing on just a few

Twinings had a problem with their fruit and herbal tea ranges. They had a handful of really successful and popular flavours but also a huge tail of less successful flavours. Whenever any of the less successful flavours were delisted by a supermarket, or Twinings withdrew a flavour, they would receive impassioned letters from a few consumers who loved the flavour that had been withdrawn.

Twinings knew that their teas were good, they knew that once consumers discovered them, they loved them, but whatever they tried, sales continued to focus upon the best known varieties.

The Question – How do we encourage greater interest in the other flavours

Twinings asked The Marketing Clinic to find some clarity on what motivated consumers to choose different flavours and how could they encourage more consumers to enjoy more variety of flavours.

The Marketing Clinic Approach – Understanding why consumers buy fruit and herbal infusions

As we looked into consumer responses to the range of infusions on offer, we very quickly realised that it came down to that all important question:

‘Why do people drink these teas?’

Consumers drink fruit and herbal infusions not just because they are thirsty, or because they have reached that time in the day. They choose fruit and herbal teas because they derive a greater benefit from them, they perceive them to be healthier, wholesome, they make them feel more hydrated, more energised, more relaxed, cleansed…

As we profiled the range of fruit and herbal teas, we began to understand not only which teas triggered which feelings of specific health benefits – i.e. which flavours relaxed and calmed, which energised, or nourished etc. – but what it was about their consumption experiences that prompted these beliefs.

While there was a general association of some of the flavours with specific benefits (camomile tea as calming), this was more to do with traditional associations with the herb or fruit rather than any understanding of the consumption experience. We were now, for the first time, able to give the Twinings team a comprehensive understanding of the consumers’ perceived effect of each infusion through the range.

The Outcome – A completely new way of promoting infusions that helped consumers to understand and navigate the range

This comprehensive understanding of which teas proffered what benefits and why prompted the team to take a completely different look at their range. With our help and guidance they re-organised the range by perceived benefit rather than by flavour as they had done previously.

Shortly after this, Twinings relaunched their fruit and herbal infusions grouped by benefit; Calming Relaxing, Sleep Time, Cleansing, and Invigorating rather than by category – Herbal teas, Fruit teas etc. Consumers could now select their teas for the benefits that they were looking for and when seeking alternative flavours select the right ones for the correct occasions thus avoiding potential disappointment.

This proved to be so successful (even intuitive when viewed with hindsight) that very shortly afterwards the supermarket own brands and other competitors followed their lead.  Subsequently the way that the UK market viewed fruit and herbal infusions changed completely.