Retail Innovation: The Case for Authenticity, Why Retailers Should "Be More Tea"

  • Wednesday, 06/13/2018: 11:30 AM - 12:40 PM
  • Room: S230
  • Session Number:  CS21


The latest in a series on retail innovations that move the needle. Flirtation with herbals has grown into a love embrace at the expense of orthodox tea. Consumers (73%) are always willing to try something new but true innovation results in re-orders, not one-off sales. It was Teavana that switched from leaf tea to pyramid bags and from its founding formulations of traditional European herbal and fruit blends to wacky combinations that appealed to people who never re-order. Ironically DAVIDsTEA, with an even less orthodox lineup, prevailed. The result: Bubble tea is a breakout but fortunately so is Matcha.


A brief review of the fact that innovation is learned, not limited. It is a form of creative problem solving, not magic. Innovations only matter when they move the needle (generate either more sales from existing customers, or entice more customers, or both).

Establishing this framework leads to examples of authentic storytelling (with concrete examples like La Croix Sparkling Water). These are illustrated in slides and examples of actual products (taste of La Croix). What makes it so special... and why did it grow to a $225 million brand. I illustrate the point with other examples from the tea industry.

Samples and Powerpoint slides with text and photos depicting real financials.

Learning Objectives

1. Introduction to the Information Supply Chain -- Parallel to the business supply chain is an essential mix of data and images, critical to traceability.
2. Above all, authenticity -- Promoting herbals is smart, but how that's done is suspect. Customers raise their noses to exaggerated claims, fabricated myths and falsehoods.
3. Storytelling is the natural outcome of true innovation, because innovation is not magical it is merely creative problem solving, and that always makes a good story.


Daniel Bolton

Editor\Publisher Tea Journey Magazine & Managing Editor STiR
Dan is president of Mystic Media Custom Publishing