Sometimes, you have to go back to another place you know well to find “new” and interesting things that you had previously missed.
I once spoke of loose leaf tea sold in a supermarket (see here) but I saw during this week an interesting concept in a hypermarket (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypermarket): a true and dedicated teashop.
Not really dedicated since you can buy roasted coffee, spice and other specific sweets.
However, you can also buy almost 50 loose leaf teas (flavoured and not flavoured ; green, white or black) from a brand I could identify after making some research on Internet as being Compagnie Coloniale (http://www.compagnie-coloniale.com/).
He was not asked why he had decided to do this but he said he wanted to make life easier for his customers.
Let’s look at it from a broader perspective.
Clermont-Ferrand is not from my point of view a really huge tea town and this hypermarket (since they are franchises, I cannot and won’t generalise) seems to focus on good quality yet affordable food products.
I think this is the key to this surprising marketing move: trying to broaden their market with this offering of tea but in a specialised and somehow different settings.
It is here that some of you might kill me for looking at this but I must say that they are still offering the usual bagged tea boxes but also a lot of loose leaf boxes of “classical” brands (you know those in the supermarkets near you).
What does this mean?
That with more space and a focus on the customers, even big stores (that are supposed to be non personal and so on and so on) can decide to upgrade the quality of their products, to increase the space available for their sales and to offer a complete range of products, increasing their attraction power and therefore their potential sales and profitability.
Can all the big stores go that way? I guess it depends on their strategy and how they perceive their market.
Can it work? If the market is not saturated by high quality teashops and if there is a demand (even if it is a small one) for such goods, I would say yes.
Does it work in making you buy more? It didn’t for me but only because they hadn’t what I was looking for and also because I know where to buy my teas (even if I am always ready for new things as long as they appeal to me). However for people discovering tea or without an access to good stores, the concept seems quite good and for me everything that allows more people to get access to quality teas is something worth noticing.