Starbucks brings Teavana brand to UK as it ramps up plans to double commercial value

Starbucks is set to introduce its Teavana tea brand across the UK and EMEA as the brand looks to exploit the “massive opportunity” in the $38bn category and revitalise it in a “youthful way”.

This summer the coffee chain will introduce the first of three Teavana categories, Shaken Iced Tea, in a marketing blitz that will see the brand take over Starbucks stores nationwide as well as the company’s social channels. The decision to extend the brand to the UK – it was introduced in north America in 2012 – comes as part of a wider plan to double Starbuck’s commercial value to $100bn.

Speaking to The Drum Ian Cranna, vice president of marketing EMEA, Starbucks, said Teavana will aim to open up the tea category to a younger audience. “We feel there is a massive opportunity not only to up-level that out of home tea experience but to revitalise it in a youthful way. You’ll see from the brand and the way it is represented in the bright and light, colourful imagery that this is a brand that is very much positioned at turning around what is a fantastic experience and bringing it to a younger audience,” he said.

Sampling will form a key part of the marketing activity both instore and at street level as well as out of home and other media channels, with Teavana set to be Starbuck’s main summer campaign for 2016.

The Shaken Iced Tea range includes flavours such as Blackberry Mojito as Starbucks looks extend the appetite for cocktails to tea to pull in a younger drinker. Following the summer campaign, the coffee house will introduce two further Teavana categories; Hot Tea and Tea Lattes, including Matcha and Rooibos.

While the playful brand might seem at odds with Starbuck’s more traditional branding, Cranna said he is confident it will complement the more serious side of coffee.

“I think it brings a vibrancy back to the coffee shop environment that maybe has moved in to a serious space. I’m not saying that coffee isn’t a very serious product, it will always continue to be here at Starbucks and many other places, but there is no doubt about it that the Teavana brand gives an element not only in the branding but the product characteristics to be lighter, to be a little bit more joyful and to be playful.

In 2015, Starbucks saw record revenues of £19.2bn (17 per cent growth on 2014), with tea up by 17 per cent over the prior year with all tea categories posting strong growth, led by iced tea at 29 per cent.

Mobile has also been massively successful for the brand, led by the introduction of mobile payments and mobile ordering in 2014, with more innovation set to come to the mobile space in 2016 and beyond according to Cranna. Starbucks boasted six million transactions through its 'Mobile Order and Pay' service every month during its first quarter results earlier this year.

The coffee company is also exploring brand partnerships in the UK similar to its deal in the US with Spotify, which allows Starbucks Mobile App customers to immediately discover music playing overhead in Starbucks stores, save Starbucks-curated songs to a playlist on Spotify and listen to Starbucks music anywhere they go on Spotify.

“Those are the types of initiatives that we will look to bring at some point in time to the UK. We think that the opportunity around having partnerships with companies and products and services that fit with the coffee house experience makes an awful lot of sense and there are some technical capabilities and advances that we are looking at that will make it more possible to do that.”

Starbucks is offering visitors nine Teavana beverages at the London Coffee Festival which is running until Monday.

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