Expanding your Market through Collaboration

TWEET: Partnering with craft brewers, ice cream makers and cosmetics co. may help tea sellers expand markets.

Tea purveyors have created many routes for reaching audience with their products — sales through retail chains, wholesale to restaurants and hotels, catalogs, online shops, at-home parties. Each supplier spends time trying to differentiate itself from the other similar products on the market. Those who gain a loyal following are most likely to survive. But is selling tea enough?

Many shop owners expand their offerings to include teaware, books and accessories. Other tea companies are exploring new routes for distribution and those paths involve creative collaborations.

Maya Tea Company in Tucson, Ariz., has seen potential in creating partnerships with craft brewers who are looking for new  flavor profiles. He supplied Borderlands Brewing Co. with a citrus hibiscus blend and a jasmine green for two different beer projects. He also sold jasmine green tea to Terrapin Beer Co. of Athens, Ga. for a special-edition brew.

Maya Tea isn’t the only one exploring the beer route. Metropolitan Tea sells to Toronto’s Mill Street Brewery, MEM Imports to Everett, Mass.’s Night Shift Brewing, and other companies are building relationships with brewers across the country.

If beer isn’t your thing, how about ice cream? Tea ice creams are showing up in grocery stores and ice cream stands with greater frequency. Samovar Tea Lounge even offers a recipe on their site so you can make your own. They, of course, are certain to include suggestions of their blends that would work perfectly. Harney & Co. takes things a step further, selling ice cream floats in their Harney SoHo location that utilize both tea soda and tea ice cream. The bonus? Not only are you introducing people to your brand and your flavors, it also takes a great deal more tea leaf to make a batch of ice cream than a cup of tea.

Consumables aren’t the only distribution channel. I Heart Teas has been specializing in tea-infused bath and body products, including soaps, salts, lip balm and even perfumes. While she also sells tea through her online shop, the most frequent buzz about her lines often focuses on her cosmetic and body care products. As more companies seek to add teas to their cosmetic products, opportunities will continue to arise for ambitious tea purveyors to create valuable partnerships.

LINKED IN: What creative partnerships are you seeing that are helping tea distributors expand their markets and bring more attention to their brands? We’ve seen teas show up in offerings by craft brewers, ice cream shops, cosmetics companies and others. In what ways does this help and hurt the specialty tea market?