28 April 2016
Taiwanese Tea Brands Target Experience-hungry HK Consumers
Taiwan's more innovative beverage brands are now looking to cross the Straits as part of their expansion plans.
With competition never having been more intense in the Taiwan hospitality sector, many of the local food and drink chain brands are having to work ever harder just to maintain their market share. As well as taking an increasingly innovative approach to their marketing, the launch of new and original drink brands has become a popular tactic with many of these businesses. Now, a number of them are also looking to bring these distinctive blends to Hong Kong.
Even amid the rivalry that characterises much of the food and drink market, the handcrafted tea shop sector stands out as particularly competitive. The huge variety of products on offer gives tea drinkers a bewildering array of choice, with any brand lacking a clear market niche struggling to build a consumer base. Inevitably, those companies lacking signature brands or failing to develop new products see their market share dwindle. As consumers are now notoriously keen to sample more exotic offerings, providing new taste experiences is all but obligatory for those brands looking for success in the sector.
A prime example here is Kingyo, a tea brand originally popular in the central Taiwanese city of Taichung. Its jade lemon tea has proved a huge hit with connoisseurs, with many of its outlets frequently attracting long queues. Throughout its 10-year history, the brand has looked to build its reputation by regularly introducing new blends, many with unusual or novel ingredients.
Last year, the company entered the Hong Kong market for the first time and now runs two outlets in the city. With its products said to enjoy considerable local popularity, it now has plans in place to open a number of additional sites.
In a similar move, the Sun Spark Group, a business with five subsidiary food and drink brands – including the Laya Burger chain – is working with its local representative to establish another of its sub-brands, Tino's Pizza, in Hong Kong. The Italian-style diner already has premises in Hong Kong's Tai Po district and has set out to woo local consumers with its own take on iced lemon tea. With this first outlet already proving a success, a second restaurant – in Sham Shui Po – will open in June.
Traditionally, many Taiwanese businesses have seen the mainland as their most obvious route for expansion. More recently, with the links between Taiwan and Hong Kong becoming closer, businesses on both sides of the Straits have seen the potential in imported Taiwanese products. The combination of a greater willingness to experiment by many Hong Kong consumers, as well as the high level of international tourists the city attracts, are thought to provide a ready market for many such items.
Tammy Hsieh, Taiwan Office