According to the Maverick Pakistanis Beverage Consumption Report, 2014, Pakistan has one of the highest per capita tea consumption statistics in the world – one kilogramme, compared to the global average of 0.75 kilogramme per capita. In view of this and the fact that there is a 50% untapped market potential for branded tea across the rural-urban divide, Tapal Tea recently launched a new SKU (in sachet form) of its premium dust tea brand Mezban.
The tea category consists of leaf and dust variants; leaf tea is more suited to the tastes of the metropolitan population, while dust is concentrated in interior Sindh – primarily due to the karak punch it delivers in every cup. The Pakistan Tea Association (PTA) estimates that approximately 30,000 tonnes of dust tea is consumed annually, of which dust tea brands account for 20,000 tea tonnes, with unbranded accounting for the remaining 10,000 tonnes.
The brand landscape is dominated by premium priced brands. Tapal Mezban with a 90% market share is the category leader, while Unilever’s Pearl Dust, with an estimated market share of six to seven percent (Source: PTA, 2014) is a distant second. At the lower end, Tapal Chenak stands alone (after Unilever redacted Red Rose in 2011) catering specifically to the Tharparkar region in Sindh. Yet, despite a highly penetrated dust tea market (estimated at 90 to 92% by Nielsen as of January 2014), Tapal saw the opportunity to increase Mezban’s market share by 33%, by bringing the low-income segments into the fold with the launch of a Rs 10 sachet last month.
“While previous campaigns depicted friendship, cultural diversity and heritage, this time the message was ‘quality with affordability’. If a little girl can think of serving premium dust tea to her ‘guests’ at her doll’s wedding, then Mezban is no longer a ‘tea of the elite’, it is part of everyone’s life.”
According to Khurram Koraishy, GM Marketing, Tapal Tea, “Dust tea is an interior Sindh phenomenon and price is an important consideration, given that the majority of our target audience are daily wage earners. The reason for launching the sachet was to widen the horizon of our market by creating awareness for the less affluent that they now have access to a premium brand, without any dilution of blend quality, at an affordable price point.”
To promote the brand in Sindh, Tapal launched a 360-degree campaign designed by IAL Saatchi & Saatchi. Until two years ago Tapal used to maintain an ATL to BTL ratio of 40:60, however, the ratio has moved to 50:50, and according to Koraishy, this shift is a reflection of a change in the marketing thinking of Tapal’s top management.
“After achieving category leadership, Tapal became very sales centric and relied entirely on its extensive distribution system to maintain sales. However, the management realised that by depending on the sales and distribution networks alone, the brand could then become vulnerable in a market with low barriers to entry; thus there was a need to revive the brands through increased ATL activities.”
According to Rabia Memon, Brand Manager Dust Tea, Tapal Tea, the brief given to IAL Saatchi & Saatchi (Tapal’s creative agency) was two-fold.
“Link the brand essence of Mezban with Sindh’s culture of hospitality and love of vibrant colours, while at the same time communicating the fact that Mezban is no longer exclusively for well-off people. With a sachet priced at only Rs 10, Mezban’s superior blend, taste and aroma can now be enjoyed by everyone on special occasions.”
The campaign was centred on the theme of ‘guriya ki shaadi’, featuring two little girls, dressed in traditional Sindhi attire, busy planning the wedding of their doll – a popular pastime for girls living in rural and semi-urban Sindh, and one rooted in Sindh’s cultural norms.
Memon explains how this approach communicated the change in Mezban’s positioning.
“Mezban in Sindhi and Urdu means ‘host’, so hospitality is the consistent theme of our campaigns. However, while previous campaigns depicted friendship, cultural diversity and heritage, this time the message was ‘quality with affordability’. If a little girl can think of serving premium dust tea to her ‘guests’ at her doll’s wedding, then Mezban is no longer a ‘tea of the elite’, it is part of everyone’s life.”
The media plan (developed and executed by Maxus) included airing the TVC on Sindhi channels such as Sindh TV and Kook. This was supplemented by print advertisements in Sindhi publications, POS displays at retail outlets and outdoor advertising across rural Sindh.
Unlike prior campaigns however, radio has not been used yet, because according to Koraishy, “we usually use radio spots when we have a powerful, thematic soundtrack rooted in Sindhi folk music; in this instance, the music did not merit the development of radio spots and our focus was on the visual appeal.”
The addition of a new SKU did not prompt a change in Mezban’s packaging. The deep maroon Sindhi, ajrak-inspired motifs on the packaging remain the brand’s USP. Koraishy says that “the design elements make the brand stand out from competition. Furthermore, the distinctive colour and design of ajrak resonates with the sensibilities of our audience.”
The campaign was backed by an enhanced distribution effort that ensured brand availability across Sindh, even in remote areas where the terrain is difficult to access. In fact according to Neilsen estimates, Mezban has a sales weighted average of a 100% in the Sindh retail landscape, implying that Mezban has a shelf presence at every tea retail outlet in Sindh – a statistic said to be unmatched by any other tea brand in the region.
With market penetration in dust tea growing steadily at one to 1.5% in the last five years (Source: Nielsen, 2014), coupled with the rise of an increasingly brand conscious middle income segment in rural Sindh, there is considerable potential to grow Mezban’s customer base further. Looking ahead, Koraishy says, “The retail brand assortments are changing and shops and dhabas that previously only stocked loose tea are adding Mezban sachets to their shelves. This change is reflective of the changing preferences of tea consumers who now demand a consistent taste and quality in every cup. This is the brand promise Mezban continues to deliver.”