If you’re a tea drinker, I’ll bet you are well aware of Earl Gray tea. It happens to be one of the most popular teas sold, both here and abroad. It wasn’t the name that made it unique.
It tasted pretty good, but it wasn’t the flavor that made it unique.
Unless I missed something, the hot water looked like any other water I’d ever seen: It wasn’t the water that made it unique.
The teacup looked rather ordinary, as did the spoon, and the sweetener was predictable as well. None of these things made it unique.
What made it unique was the packaging. You may not think that you could creatively package a tea bag, but you are wrong. I’m not even sure you would call this a tea bag; it looked more like a tea pyramid…with a leaf growing out of it! It didn’t change the flavor in any way, but it did do something important. It changed the experience. It made us notice the product. It made us talk about the product. It made us pay more for the product. If we were to go back, it would make us seek out the product again. It even made someone write about the product!
Welcome to the world of packaging. In a product line whose biggest deviation in the past decade has been to create a big traveling box of tea bags that all look alike, the tea pyramid…with a leaf growing out of it, seems to have pushed the envelope. Oh, and I forgot to mention that this cup of tea, with the magic tea pyramid… that had a leaf growing out of it, had a price tag of $7.00.
I know what you might be thinking: “Isn’t this the guy who just told us not to use an analogy of a Cadillac because it conjured up thoughts of unnecessary cost?” I want to remind you of where I found this tea pyramid…with a leaf growing out of it. This wasn’t an IHOP where an entire thermos of Earl Gray tea would be served for a fraction of the cost. No, this was a trendy premium restaurant, in a high-class hotel, on the strip in Las Vegas. Here, that packaging was right for that audience, and it worked!
It worked because the restaurant is well aware of its particular niche, and used this simple packaging approach to offer its clientele something unique and special. Once upon a time, another company took both coffee and tea, repackaged the entire experience, tripled the price in doing it, and has become one of the most successful “chain stores” that exist today. That company, Starbucks, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.