05 Sep 2013 US: Bottled rooibos tea brand grows sales 330%
Discussing the sales lift since May 2010, Heather Howell told BeverageDaily.com that since she joined the firm as ‘CTeaO’ she had been selective in terms of listings for the Kentucky-based brand, which uses leaves from the South African rooibos [‘red bush’] bush.
1,500 Rooibee Red stockists nationwide include Kroger, Whole Foods Market and Costco, and the brand produces several thousand cases a year of the caffeine-free organic drink, which uses organic rooibos tea extract (390mg per 355ml) and is being put forward for USDA organic certification.
This is a far cry from 2009, when Louisville, Kentucky farmers markets were the main sales outlet – and Howell says major listings have won the brand extra exposure – in 2011 it won a 1st place award at the North American Tea Championship, and took 2nd place this year for another variety.
Hearing the voice of brand
“One of the things I feel is that being a woman, and running a business, I understand the consumer very well, and understand the voice of this brand” Howell says.
“Women primarily make decisions in the grocery store,” she adds.“And I’ve been very strategic about where our brand should land and on which shelves.”
For instance, Rooibee Red is stocked in every Whole Foods Markets store in Florida. “Why?” Howell asks. “Well health is paramount, people are outside more often, you’ve got the seasonal extension of summer. And we’re in iced tea, although you can heat up our Vanilla Chai flavor.”
She adds: “The other thing is awareness – Northern California is the home of the organic movement, San Francisco… they’re very aware of Rooibos in these areas.”
Howell says that knowing one’s market, having a secure brand identity and knowing how to animate it has been crucial for Rooibee’s success.
Americans increasingly want to be sure that the beverages they drink are healthy, contain antioxidants and have no empty calories for their kids to ingest, she adds.
“A lot of people are familiar with the health benefits of Rooibos, so all we do is make a great-tasting beverage, high antioxidant content, a fun package – that a recipe for success,” Howell says…..
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