How a distinctive brand voice reversed Yorkshire Tea’s fortunes

How a distinctive brand voice reversed Yorkshire Tea’s fortunes

Eh, put down that frothy coffee and have a proper brew. It’s the unmistakeable brand voice that has moved Yorkshire Tea from third place into the coveted number-one cuppa brand in the UK with 28% of the market.

And that’s a remarkable feat, given it started in third place behind traditional category leaders PG Tips and Tetley a few years ago.

What makes it even more noteworthy is that black tea is a market in long-term decline and, as a rule, tea is a low interest FMCG category in which switching and growth are virtually unheard of. And yet Yorkshire Tea has bucked that trend, and with such marketing aplomb, that it has been voted into our Innovation 50.

To remind us exactly why Yorkshire Tea has become almost a national treasure, fan Marc Allenby, Creative Director, Harvard, says, “Yorkshire Tea uses its own style of comedy and wit in a way that really suits the brand. They really play on their ‘Yorkshireness’ and in a way that entertains us. These days, there are so many channels that any brand that wants you to interact with it needs to give you value, and Yorkshire Tea always does.”

Proper marketing

It all started when the company set its sights on moving up the tea sales charts with a campaign in 2017 that rooted the brand in its home county. Not just that, but in Yorkshire Tea itself being a place ‘Where everything’s done proper’.

They called in Olympic triathlete medallists the Brownlee brothers (from Yorkshire), Leeds band The Kaiser Chiefs and national treasure and legendary Yorkshireman Michael Parkinson as stars of its TV campaign. Parkinson interviewed new recruits, the brothers delivered boxes of tea and the band played live at the Yorkshire Tea reception desk.

Fellow fan Donald Ferguson, Director, Hope & Glory PR, says, Yorkshire Tea has moved into national treasure status by basically not talking about tea at all.”’

Idyllic Yorkshire scenes on the packaging are all in keeping with the brand personality

‘Masterful’ development of a concept

The way the brand has grown the initial concept to involve even Sean Bean has been masterful.

Donald says, “As far as innovative marketing goes, the seemingly endless iterations of the ‘everything's done proper’ campaign has cut through the crushing monotony of the category by bringing to life all of the support jobs, cause they are ‘done properly as well’.

“Having drafted in various famous no-nonsense Yorkshire-based British national treasures, such as Sean Bean, Parky and Dynamo over the years – the 100% carbon neutral announcement featuring Andrew Hutchinson, the original illustrator of the Yorkshire Tea box, updating his iconic pack artwork based on an idyllic Yorkshire countryside scene to be ‘proper green’ is just brilliant. Regardless if you drink it or not, it’s everyone’s cup of tea.”

Things continue to look positive for Yorkshire Tea and the category in general.

Research shows that tea consumption in the UK doubled during the lockdown. And according to The Grocer, Yorkshire Tea bucked a sales trend in the first lockdown seeing its sales soar by 16.2% to £35 million compared with the same period in 2019, a feat that eluded other teas, such as herbal blends, and other black tea brands such as Twinings.