Consumers began to see a new look for Honest Tea as well as Honest Ade in late January. The PET line of bottles no longer has the dome at the bottom and labels have been redesigned to better communicate to consumers the ingredients used in each product.
Seth Goldman, Honest Tea’s president and TeaEO said the new bottle has been in the works for about three years. The project was put into the pipeline after consumer feedback revealed that the dome was being perceived as the company selling less liquid then what was stated on the bottle. “We were never selling anybody less liquid in the bottle, but there was a perception that we were doing that,” he says.
Though the company did add messaging to its label—it looked like a sticky note—to explain that there wasn’t less liquid in the bottle, the company all the while was working with its supplier, Graham Packaging Co. to develop a bottle that is the same light weight (22 percent lighter than the brand’s initial PET bottle) but with a flatter bottom. The bottle began rolling out last month, says Goldman.
In addition, the new design allowed for the company to add some additional messaging “EST. 1998 Bethesda, MD,” says Goldman, “which is a nice salute to our roots and keeps our brand connected to where we come from.”
Goldman adds that from a business standpoint, this new bottle offers more flexibility in the company’s supply chain.
“The other advantage of the new mold is that that old mold, the one with the cavity, required an activator machine in the bottling plants that was very expensive and always a drag on the line. Now we can run this new bottle at multiple sites; we don’t need that activator and that is a great relief.”
Other changes for the this year include a “top to bottom” redesign of the Honest Tea label for the PET line as well as Honest Ade. The goal: “The label is designed to stand out more on the shelf, communicate the ingredients and be more visually engaging,” says Goldman.
The new labels showcase the word “Honest,” which was an important factor in the new look as well as making the ingredients more prominent to communicate the natural message and, for Honest Ade, better feature the fruit that goes into the liquid in a fun, whimsical way. “Obviously, beverages should be fun and engaging and something that people want to enjoy,” says Goldman. One example: an oversized mango and orange slice sitting atop a tiny wheelbarrow.
RTD tea continues to perform well despite the economic downturn and its premium price tag at times. RTD tea is forecasted to gain share and increase in volume to 3.5 billion gallons in the U.S. by 2015, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation, as it offers a good-for-you alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.
Honest Tea is among one of the leaders in the RTD category, ranking among the Top 20 canned and bottled teas for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 25, 2011, according to SymphontyIRIGroup data. Honest Tea saw a sales increase of nearly 28 percent over last year in supermarkets, drugstores, gas/c-stores and mass market retailers excluding Walmart.
“We know our consumers are eager and engaged for information,” notes Goldman, “and they like to learn more about the brand.” To continue to share the Honest story, the company also is putting more information on the inside of its labels, real estate that was previously used for quotes. Inside of the labels, consumers will find historical company antidotes and information on what the company does with its tea leaves after they are brewed. “This is a great example of a way we can tell them more,” Goldman says.