With trends like celebrity tea lines, the growth of tea retail outlets and teas being marketed to men and millennials, it's clear that one of the most popular beverages in the world is taking hold as it reaches a new generation, according to World Tea Expo organizers. Some of the tea trends that will be greatly discussed or evident on the show floor at this year's World Tea Expo, June 24 – 26 in Las Vegas, Nevada, include: the growing emergence of tea-specific retailers; sexy, modern tea wares; celebrity tea products; men, millennials and tea; innovative tea packaging; organic teas and sustainability; an emphasis on tea culture; classification from "specialty" to "premium"; and social media to fuel tea's increased popularity.
"It's exciting to watch tea thrive and evolve beyond traditional tea models," says Kim Jage, executive vice president of World Tea Expo. "At 2011 World Tea Expo, thousands of retailers will be turning to premium tea to help differentiate their business or product line and maximize the category's profit potential. Whether it's foodservice looking to incorporate tea across profit centers or a retail establishment that wants to add the newest tea products, 2011 is a key year as tea is on the mindset of a new generation."
Major tea trends that will be explored and discussed at 2011 World Tea Expo include:
Sexy, Modern Tea Wares
"As tea is becoming ever more popular with a younger demographic, hip tea ware is a natural extension," says Jage. "We're seeing tea accoutrements and gifts that are modern, BPA free, user-friendly and highly appealing to today's tea drinkers."
Celebrity Tea Lines
In addition, celebrities like Donald J. Trump, Lady Gaga, and Padma Lakshmi have their own tea lines, which showcase tea's heightened standing in the marketplace. According to World Tea Expo organizers, the popularity of these tea lines is helping to introduce tea to new audiences. "Celebrities see the value in getting in the tea business," says Jage. "We expect these lines to be highly successful, and we anticipate similar lines emerging in the future."
Marketing Tea to Men and Millennials
The fastest growing demographic of attendees at World Tea Expo is between the ages of 18 to 28, and they are men, according to data from the company's 2008, 2009 and 2010 events. "We're not only seeing a younger generation of tea professionals at our events, we're also seeing tea companies and retailers marketing to men and millennials with specific products" says Jage.
Innovative Tea Packaging
Unique, innovative, made-from-the-earth and functional tea product packaging is also "in." "When Ajiri Tea launched at 2010 World Tea Expo, their hand-made tea packaging from women in Kenya, made out of banana leaves, was a huge hit," says Jage. "The industry will see more of this creative and environmentally-smart packaging at this year's event, and consumers can expect to see this at the store front."
As tea's popularity is rising, more and more tea retail outlets are opening. Some of the biggest names making strides include: Adagio Teas, Harney & Sons Fine Teas, DavidsTea, and Argo Tea Cafe. "The largest growth is in tea retail outlets that do not include food," explains Jage. "The newer tea retailers that do offer foodservice serve modern food in modern decor, or they are Asian inspired, unlike traditional tea rooms which are more Victorian in nature."
Social Media and Tea
"Ever since Kevin Rose, founder of www.digg.com, an attendee of World Tea Expo, started tea groups and pages online, the industry saw how important it was to embrace social media," says Jage. "We anticipate more tea marketing on a social media level, and we'll see more social media links placed on tea packaging, in addition to being a part of traditional advertising and marketing."
Emphasis on Tea Origins
Attendees at 2011 World Tea Expo can also expect a greater emphasis placed on traditional tea customs from different countries. "We're seeing the industry and consumers talking more about the origin of the tea they are drinking, the process it took to get here and the cultural customs surrounding it," says Jage. "So much so, in fact, we created a World Origin Tasting Tour at Expo, where we'll explore tea of six countries in eight hours."
From "Specialty" to "Premium" Tea
The tea industry used to group all of its whole-leaf tea into a category called "specialty." Now, "specialty" is being further categorized with more and more professionals and tea companies using the term "premium" when referring to high-quality tea versus tea that is simply whole leaf or scented. "As the palates of tea drinkers evolve, so does the nomenclature," says Jage.
Organic Tea and Sustainability
The United States is the largest market for organics, with all major supermarket chains, including Wal-Mart, now selling organic foods, according to a 2010 report by Hauke Consulting. "Naturally, with the emphasis on global connectivity and an influx of younger people drinking tea, there is a strengthening demand for organic and sustainable tea products," says Jage. "We will surely see more natural product retailers selling private-label organic teas. Most big retailers already have their organic private label lines and teas will be included."
About the World Tea Expo
World Tea Expo 2011, which is the largest and most prominent event for the tea industry, caters to tea retailers, restaurateurs, food service leaders, hoteliers, spa owners and other business professionals who want to learn more about the latest opportunities and tea trends, which consumers can expect to see more of in the future. The event takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, June 24 – 26, and conference registration and details are available at www.WorldTeaExpo.com.