05 Nov Starbucks buys Teavana, but who else will?

Up until now, Starbucks speciality has been in coffee, but CEO Howard Schultz is hoping to change that. Schultz has acquired Teavana, a speciality tea and accessory retailer, for an estimated $620 millions dollars. Clearly, Schultz is confident that he can do for tea, what he has done for coffee. Although many remain skeptical.

It has been made clear this new store is not a Starbucks. You won’t be finding coffee here. If you’re looking for your double tall, no foam, dry cappuccino, you’re going to be disappointed. As obvious as this may seem, note that this is solely a tea retailer, so that’s what they plan on selling. If it’s not tea related, you won’t be seeing it in their stores.

Teavana is the combination of both “tea” and “nirvana”. Nirvana being the religious concept surrounding peace of mind. The idea the company wants you to take away from the name and the new store is the idea of tranquility. When you think of teavana, they want you to relate that to being calm and being at peace, ideas that are often associate with tea. Although from what we have seen the environment they present does not exactly equate to relaxing. Schultz is attempting to redefine tea with a non-conventional way of serving but is Teavana inviting?

Teavana is not a spin off of the usual tea house or tea serving experience. Although it doesn’t seem unique per se. We wonder where the cultural connection lies. From what we can see, the store seems to have a mall-experience feel to it.  As for the photos released, we can gather a few things regarding their visual strategy. The new teavana store is almost reminiscent of an Apple store in terms of being located in an open space with lots of room, everything neat and in order, and many registers open and ready to help tea seekers.

The multiple registers reduce the chance of waiting, so consumers can conveniently get their tea quickly, and will less likely be bothered or stressed over a long wait that one often encounters in Starbucks locations. However, Schultz has prided himself on making Starbucks the third place. Home, work, and Starbucks. Another place for you to call home. Another daily place to visit. A place of comfort. So, where does Teavana fit into this equation? With such quick access to tea and limited seating, Teavana does not seem as inviting as Starbucks so where does it stand? Who are the consumers? What is the occasion for this tea (especially if it isn’t for relaxing)? Without knowing these answers, we have to wonder, will Teavana become as popular as the coffee chain under Schulz control?

The first Teavana Fine Teas and Tea Bar has opened two weeks ago in Manhattan, New York.  Tea blends such as, Youthberry Wild Orange Blossom and Strawberry Rose Champagne/Peach Tranquility might get you to come in, but we are interested in learning what will make consumers stay.

Written by Aleece Reynaga, Marketing Assistant

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Kompas Strategy
Mark@kompasstrategy.com