Honest Tea typically produces their beverages in plastic bottles that have a dome-shape at the bottom of it, but this dome-shaped bottom has caused some consumers that Honest Tea is tricking them in relation to the actual amount of liquid inside each bottle. While the bottom says 16.9oz (473ml) liquid is inside each bottom, some are wondering if there’s actually less. As a result, they’ve issued a statement on their website to clarify this:
We recently switched to a thinner bottle, one which is 22% lighter. This saves us money and saves the world resources. The only problem is that the thinner bottle had the risk of getting dented. In fact, this was a real problem that forced us to redesign the bottle. To help keep its shape, the inside must be under pressure. When the bottle is filled with hot tea, the liquid expands and the plug on the bottom pops out. (If you squeeze real hard, you can make this happen.) Then as the tea cools, the plug pops back in and creates the pressure on the inside that prevents the bottles from being damaged. The thinner plastic means we needed more pressure and hence the bigger plug. There really is 16.9 oz. inside and we aren’t trying to pull a fast one. But we can see how you could get confused or could think that we are trying to be deceptive. We clearly need to do a better job explaining why the bottle has this design. In the next label run we plan to say something to explain this to our customers. We hope that makes you feel that you can still trust us and will stick with us.
Honest Tea has since switched to new, flatter bottom bottles to make it less confusing for their consumers. This packaging adjustment is great timing as their parent company, Coca-Cola Refreshments, is exploring growth opportunities to increase Honest Tea’s visibility and awareness. Nestea will be distributed by Nestle Waters (Nestea’s original parent) starting sometime in 2013. This means that the tea category is poised to be shaken up slightly with more competition as Nestle Waters will undoubtedly be promoting Nestea vigorously to gain sales (bevwire article link here).
For Honest Tea, paying attention to what their users are saying is just the entrance fee into the growing tea category. The packaging change-up shows their current users that the company has heard what they are saying, but it does not bring in any new users. What Honest Tea does in addition to this adjustment is what may help them gain more space in the category. As they look for growth opportunities and try to gain more space at the retailers, their conversations and results with the retailer’s buyer are paramount. They must show the retailer that they have a better product, a more profitable product, or both (which would be the best scenario). In which case, showing them consumer demand is up for tea products and how Honest Tea best satisfies the most is what determines whether they will win or lose.
For Honest Tea to have success, switching to flatter bottoms is just the first of many steps. Most retailers may already have their 2012 summer shelf and cooler spacing planned, but if a product not in the planning set shows potential, it can merit a replacement of a slow selling product. If Honest Tea can convince that they deserve more shelf space at retailers this summer, that would go a long way to helping them out gain space when Nestea comes of a competitor’s delivery truck.