Fall is a favorite time of year for many. It’s a change in the season that signals the “dog days of summer” are gone and that more cozy and social times of the year are upon us. The days become shorter and the cool crisp air starts to sink in. The leaves on the trees begin their transition to beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. And just for a few minutes, our lives seem to slow down and we appreciate being outside and enjoying this change of season.
It’s also a time when shops and restaurant focus on the flavors that have become synonymous with Fall. Pumpkin spice and apple pie tend to show up just about everywhere. Fluffy socks and warm sweaters become the season’s best and most comfy styles as cooler air sets in. Evening campfires turn in to weekly rituals, as we usher in the start of the seasons that seem to find us spending more time with each other outside.
Fall is also a great time for those of us in the tea industry to focus on seasonal favorites and incorporate them into our product offerings, our shops and our social media. Here are a few ways to embrace the upcoming season for your tea shop or teahouse business, to the delight of your customers.
Tip No. 1 – Promote the Meaning of the Season
Each season we experience has its own uniqueness. There are certain things you wouldn’t do during some seasons that you would in others. For example, most people would not be swimming in a pool or visiting a beautiful sandy beach in the middle of winter (unless you live in Florida). You wouldn’t find many people snow skiing in the summer either. What you would find in the winter is families gathering for dinners during the holidays, building a snowman, having a snowball fight. In the Fall, you may find friends and family watching the local high school’s football game on a Friday night. Then there’s Summer, which often bring pool parties and picnics.
When working on your promotions for the season, try to capture the essence of what the season is. This makes your marketing relevant to your guests. They can relate to your company and your product when they see themselves in your promotion. Make a list of all the things that relate to the season you are in, and then use those items in your upcoming promotions.
Tip No. 2 – Focus on the Flavors of the Season
It’s no secret that you can find pumpkin spice anything at just about any shop or restaurant you visit during the Fall season. But there are lots of other flavors that signal Fall as well. What about apple, caramel and cinnamon? Think about what teas you have in your shop and focus on creating a “Fall Collection” of teas that will allow guests to enjoy all of these different flavors.
By curating a collection of flavors, you allow your guests to explore other unique flavors. For example, have you ever thought about showcasing your Lapsang Souchong tea? When paired with a delicious s’more where the marshmallow has just come off the campfire, this tea is delightful and enhances not just the flavor of the s’more, but also of the entire environment of enjoying visiting around a campfire.
Once you have some teas that represent Fall, offer them as a combined collection in sample size. Guests love the opportunity to try different teas in smaller package sizes. This option will generate new sales as your guests will want to try the samples, as well as increase seasonal flavor sales when they find a tea they love and want to purchase in larger quantity.
If you have a tearoom that serves food, ask yourself what minor changes you can make to your food menu to include Fall flavors. It could be as simple as a unique scone flavor or changing out a spread on an existing sandwich. Not only will these flavors give your menu a seasonal update, but it will also give your frequent guests some new foods to enjoy.
Tip No. 3 – Host Seasonally Themed Events
Whether a sit-down tearoom or a walk-in tea shop, take the time to showcase your seasonal teas with an event. In a sit-down environment, hosting an evening tea that focuses on Fall flavors – both tea and food – is very popular. It’s also important to think about the holidays during the Fall season and create events around them.
For example, hosting a “Witch’s Tea” during the week of Halloween, encouraging guests to dress up, and theming the decorations and food and beverage offerings to the event always makes for a great time. At The White Heron Tea & Gifts, we host an annual “Witch’s Tea” the Thursday before Halloween. We open reservations in the end of August and the event is sold out within three days. Guests love these types of events because it allows them to have fun in a great environment.
For Thanksgiving, how about hosting an evening “Friends-giving” tea? Invite guests to tea and serve unique foods often served at Thanksgiving dinner. What better way to spend time with friends and give thanks then to do it over tea.
For walk-in tea shops, hosting a costume party where guests can come dressed up and sample seasonal teas is always a big hit. What is equally as fun is to have some local actors dress up as Halloween characters (think Ichabod Crane, Salem witches, Jack Skelton), set-up a backdrop (with your logo somewhere in it, of course) and have guests take photos with the various characters. This will draw foot traffic into your establishment and allow guests to make memories that they will remember and talk about for years to come.
At Thanksgiving, it’s the perfect time to show your guests how much you appreciate them. Host a “Thank You Day,” where guests can come in and receive a free gift. It could be a sample of tea, a steeper or any other small item. This is a great way to say thank you and show your appreciation to your guests. In turn, they will remember you and think of you first when they go shopping or need more tea.
If you are at a point that you are not hosting events or welcoming guests to your shop, that is ok too. There are other ways to engage your guests online. Why not host a virtual tasting of your Fall teas. Have guests sign up in advance and send them some samples of teas you will be highlighting. Then, on the day and time scheduled, hop online and host a tea tasting where you make your tea and your guests make their tea at home.
Tip No. 4 – Capture the Season in Your Shop
Nothing shows you welcoming the Fall season more than decorating your shop. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but just enough to peak the interest of your guests and anyone who might be walking by your storefront. One way to create seasonal interest is to have your window decorated. This can be done by putting Fall items on display in your window, or by enlisting a local artist to create a painted Fall scene on your window. But don’t stop there… Be sure to make your Fall teas front and center and include merchandise that exudes the colors of the season (think Fall leaves). Find a Fall theme you like and carry it through your shop.
Tip No. 5 – Theme Your Social Media and Advertising to the Season
A small shift in the colors you use in your marketing can signal a shift from bright summer days to cozy Fall evenings. In addition, using images that showcase cooler weather, seasonal flavors and images of people enjoying activities during the Fall season will engage your customers and intrigue them to find out more about your Fall plans.
Making the seasonal shift in your social media is on the simple side, especially with free programs that allow you to create attractive ads. Adjusting the color from Summer to Fall is often times only a few clicks away.
Additionally, if you use any print media, radio or tv, now is the time to review your current ads and make changes to focus on the Fall season. This can include content changes to include new seasonal flavors or promoting an upcoming event.
There are tremendous opportunities for tea businesses to capitalize on the Fall season. By making just a few minor changes to what you already do successfully every day, you can engage your current audience and generate interest with potential customers for the future. Creating an overall impression where guests can visually see, taste, smell and hear Fall will create a lasting impression of your business with them. Afterall, what isn’t to love about all the different aspects of Fall? Now it’s time to make your customers fall in love with Fall, too.
Kelly Hackman, owner of The White Heron Tea & Gifts and Driftwood Tea Company in historic downtown New Port Richey, Fla., is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Sommelier and Certified Tea Specialist, as well as an Etiquette Consultant. Hackman has created a unique tea escape at her tearoom, which has assisted in transforming her town’s historic landscape and assists in drawing guests to the area from throughout the Southeastern United States. Visit The White Heron Tea and Gifts online at TheWhiteHeronFL.com and Driftwood Tea Company at DriftwoodTeaCompany.com