Monday, March 19, 2012

Foojoy Including Free Samples of Tea Bags With a Large Purchase

In this post, I want to highlight something that Foojoy, a brand of tea widely available in Asian stores, is doing that I think is a wonderful idea that can help people to learn more about tea, and that is also a good marketing decision. If you are a loose tea enthusiast, perhaps tempted to skip over this post, I want to ask you to bear with me on this one, as I conclude this post by describing how this simple offer of free tea bags might actually benefit loose tea culture in the long-run.

The following image, from Foojoy's website, shows a promotion that the company is running:

The idea is simple: buy a box of 100 tea bags, and you will receive a sampler of 18 tea bags, of 6 different types. I think this is a great idea, both for helping people to learn more about tea, and for the company promoting their own teas.

The samples help people to discover more of a company's product:

On a very basic level, the free samples included in the box will help Foojoy by helping people discover new teas that they might not already buy. This could increase the sales for the company in a number of different ways.

For example, someone may be used to buying Foojoy's plain green tea, but might sample their Lungching (dragon well) green tea (which, incidentally, has very favorable ratings on RateTea, surprisingly high for such simple tea bags) and might be converted to buying this slightly higher-priced product. Another way the samples could help is by making it more likely that someone would discover a new favorite tea, one that they would buy more of. It could also increase customer loyalty, as a customer realizes that they like many of Foojoy's teas, not just one.

The samples help people to learn more about tea in general:

I think that one of the best ways to learn about tea is by sampling different types of tea. One reason I personally like this promotion, offering free tea samples, is that it is a promotion that helps the person buying the box of tea to become more knowledgeable about tea. Furthermore, rather than just including one tea bag of each type, Foojoy includes three tea bags. This allows the person to experiment with brewing, and/or share a tea bag with a friend.

This promotion makes the product more attractive on the shelf:

One reason I think this promotion is such a great business decision is that it's offering something additional that will make it more likely for people to purchase the product. This could draw in new customers who have not purchased Foojoy tea before, such as a casual tea drinker, who is visiting a Chinese grocery store for the first time, and is unfamiliar with the brands of tea for sale in this store. This sort of promotion is also likely to appeal to people who enjoy sampling different teas, and these are ultimately the people companies would do well to draw in as customers, because they are most likely to spread the word about the company's products.

The offering of samples shows business confidence:

I also think that the offering of free samples shows business confidence. Companies that sell an inferior product generally will not benefit from samples, because people will try them and not like them; these companies must rely on other types of marketing to sell their low quality product.

When a tea company goes out of their way (incurring some additional up-front costs) to offer samples, it makes it more likely for me to believe that the company knows that their teas are high quality.

For the loose tea enthusiasts:

For those of you who are die-hard loose tea enthusiasts, I want to point out that Foojoy also sells loose-leaf teas, including some of very high quality. A promotion like this, which encourages people to try new types of tea, may not directly promote loose tea drinking, but I think that it ultimately will help prod people in the direction of exploring tea more, which usually leads in the long-run to people exploring loose-leaf tea. By offering both a more inexpensive line of loose-leaf teas, as well as a higher-priced line of artisan teas, Foojoy is not only giving people the option of moving into loose tea, but is poised to benefit as their customers make this transition.

What do you think?

Do you think that this promotion is a good business decision by Foojoy? Do you agree with my reasoning given here? Have you seen other, similar promotions, offered by other companies?


  1. I like the idea of giving free samples, and I like the idea of sellers allocating budgets on free samples instead of other marketing tools.
    But it also depends on market size. When the tea market is larger, there is greater incentive for sellers to give samples, and buyers can benefit from it, and then market is even larger. For example, in China, one can get free tea samples anytime either online or in a brick and mortar store. When obtained online, typically one get a set of 5-10 samples by paying only 10 yuan ($1-2) shipping. I think this is because there are many potential buyers among the sample recipients, so the sellers can afford giving samples in this way. I once collected numerous samples in online tea forums in China and then I reached a point of overwhelmed and buried by samples :-p

    Considering the market size and structure, I think it's more practical for Foojoy to give teabag samples instead of loose tea samples.

  2. That makes sense; the math of the payoff of including samples would be very different whether there were potential large buyers in the mix!

    I was thinking about this more on the retail end, here in the U.S. and other western countries, but it's interesting to think about what it's like in China too.

    I agree that it wouldn't make much sense for Foojoy to include loose tea samples in with tea bags, although I think it might be useful for them to include loose tea samples in with a tin or carton of loose tea, or perhaps, offer a mail-in coupon for samples. I know that if I saw such an offer for loose tea samples from Foojoy, I'd jump on it, for several, I have been consistently impressed by Foojoy's offerings, but two, their high-end teas are not cheap--many are $15 and up for 4 ounces or less, and they don't offer smaller sizes, except of a few of the bulkier teas where the leaf takes up so much space that only 2 or 3 ounces fits in the same size of canister. I'm normally reluctant to purchase high-end tea in these quantities. I like companies like TeaSpring, and your company Life in Teacup, which offer smaller sizes, around 1 ounce or 25 grams.

    I'm a bit curious who buys the Foojoy loose-leaf teas. They're very good, and I've bought a few, but I've encountered few tea connoisseurs talking about them; I wonder if they cater to a Chinese-American audience, or perhaps even to restaurants. Most of the teas I see stocked in Chinese groceries here in America, and most of the ones I am served in restaurants, are lower quality than what Foojoy offers.

  3. I am in favor of samples. All I need in one in my order and I am way out of proportion happier with the seller. I don't care if they are bags or loose. If I like the sample, I am more inclined to buy the tea. Sadly, because I write a blog based on trying teas, I can't always get back to the kind folks who sent me a sample. But it is a good idea

    1. I know what you mean, I get tons of offers for teas, and I am often quite slow at posting my reviews, because I like to brew a tea multiple times before reviewing it. I try to wait to respond to the offers until I know I will have time to actually write and share reviews in a timely manner.