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Sunday, September 17

Consumer Ki Kahani, Tea Bags Ki Zubaani

Was reading an article in NYT on the changing tea bag(author Florence Fabricant)when it hit me that the changes in the humble tea bag reasonably capture the changes in all of us as consumers. So here are the similarities!

1. Convenience. Tea bags are all about a quick chai! For the last decade or so, many commercial engagements have become quick, impulse purchases. From mobile phones to durables to sundry services, we increasingly are buying stuff on impulse like a tea-bag dip!

2. No Sweat. "People like good tea but not the work". Simlarly consumers like good quality & service but display 'zero sweat tolerance' . Everything-home delivered, from the comfort of their e-bay screens...Not wanting to wade through the drudgery of the streets and the angst of Mumbai-car-parking!

3. Small Indulgeces. Tea bags with micro 'dust tea' fillings are passe..."The new trend is to have bags filled with high quality long leafs, floral, herbaceous, spicy or fruity leaves!" As consumers, we too want more of the exotic experiences. But within affordable limits. Massclusivity is in. So is 'Affordable Luxury'. Budget Boutiques. It's like the new tea bag is the metaphor for the growing incidence of 'small indulgences' that Faith Popcorn predicted...

4. Pop Expertise. James Wong, a Unilever VP and GM of Lipton says that - "every consumer is becoming a gourmand". And its not just true for the tea category alone. Whether its music or electronics purchase or buying Mutual Funds, in the knowledge economy, many consumers want to be 'pop experts'. Consumer goods brands are largely at par at a transaction level. So, little known facts, brand trivia, history and heritage and design stories give the brand an edge! The knowledge makes the consumer look like an expert!

The emerging popularity of 'exotic tea bags' in a way also symnbolises the morphing of high and low brow in consumer culture. The bridging of sensory experiences, great quality and brand heritage with convenience and DIY in a time-starved world! The 'exotic tea bag model' is a good one to introduce new products and services! What do you think?

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