Conformity or Uniqueness

In the tea world, we all get requests for teas carried by competitors, which presents a dilemma: to conform and carry what everyone else has or to offer unique selections.

The average tea consumer is not especially tea savvy. They have discovered better tea options in recent years, discovering alternatives to fanning-and-dust-filled, lackluster tea bags. But unless they become overnight aficionados, they won’t understand that all tea companies don't carry the same teas.

Fall in line or blaze trails?
Fall in line or blaze trails?

The dilemma arises as we wish to win these customers over by having what they are looking for, but this means compromise if we also want to have unique offerings. So what should we do?

If we offer similar products to other tea purveyors we will certainly benefit from pleasing the client, but we then run the risk of fading into a monotone landscape without any distinction. However, if we solely offer our own signature teas, we could lose out the consumer familiarity factor.

Consider Earl Grey. Most tea companies have their own version of this tea; each with their own touches, but they are Earl Grey nonetheless. By offering a familiar tea name we provide the consumer with a quality yardstick by which to measure our offering. This provides comfort and the possibility of additional purchases as they grow confident that their choice of a new vendor will bear fruit (not to mention search engine results, but we won’t get into that here).

A modern take on tea might tempt a company to forego the classics and simply offer their own unique line, sans recognizable options. Admirable and refreshing, but one must be prepared for a stronger sell to achieve that very first breakthrough purchase and be able to help potential clients fulfill their tea needs while becoming fans of your unique line. This is a steeper climb but can go a long way toward carving out your own niche.