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A Tea for all Parties!

We had some fun this week when our Black Forest Berry was mentioned on the front page of The New York Times as the drink of choice for presidential candidate Barack Obama. Our office gets requests every day from consumers trying to find our tea and so we were happy to help Obama campaign aides find stores that carry Honest Tea (we’re trying to make it easier, but it’s still a challenge in places like Kentucky!).  I saw Obama earlier this year and he told me that while he had previously been a big Community Green drinker, he was steering himself away from the caffeine in green tea in favor of our herbal Black Forest Berry.

I know this kind of publicity can’t hurt but am not yet clear how much it helps. As a company we certainly don’t take political stances, and I know that our tea has been spotted on the desk of more than one conservative talk show host, so it’s nice to know people on all sides of the political spectrum can enjoy a bottle of tea together.

I saw a blog that cited Obama’s preference for organic bottled tea as an indication that he had elitist tastes. I know there are always people looking for opportunities to throw the “E” word around, but there are few words I find more contrary to what Honest Tea stands for. In fact, I would argue it’s elitist to suggest that only rich or highly educated people should have an interest in healthy beverages. From our beginnings ten years ago, we have always strived to offer affordable organic and healthier choices for everyone. In fact, our original $1.19 price point was too low for our own good, especially when most of the competition was out there at $1.69 per bottle for non-organic tea. We lost lots of money in the early years, but we stuck to our lower price because we sold more tea, and we knew we were reaching more people. I know there are stores and restaurants that sell our tea for as much as $6.00 per bottle, but I can assure you that we don’t make any more money on those sales than the stores that carry it at $1.49!

In many ways, the deal we made with Coca-Cola will help ensure that we don’t become an elitist brand. If our tea is only available at higher-end stores, then the pricing and the venues help feed that elitist image. By contrast, if we’re sold wherever Coca-Cola is sold, then we’ve succeeded in democratizing organics. And that’s the kind of democratization all voters can endorse.

4 Responses to “A Tea for all Parties!”
  1. El Cid Says:

    Unfortunately it wasn’t a “blog” which made fun of your fine product, but the McCain campaign manager. I think you should let him know you are a real company started by a real entrepreneur which gives jobs to real Americans, not some excuse for a joke about “elitism”. For goodness sake, your products are available in Sam’s Clubs and Safeway and other national chains.

    As a matter of fact, I’d bet your products are now less expensive than the equivalent amount of gas these days!

    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2008/07/30/politics/horserace/entry4309121.shtml

  2. Kathy Neiley Says:

    I Love the tea always; now love the ade even more.

    Check out NPR’s program today with an LA Times Classical music critic on the over-use and mis-use of the words “elite” and “elitist.” You trend-setters, you.

  3. Ryan Hoercher Says:

    I have got to imagine that Barack Obama’s tacit endorsement is nothing but good. And I honestly can’t picture Rush drinking anything with anti-oxidants. Your target demographic fits right in the Barach breadbasket. While I understand the desire to expand into new markets, I’ve got to imagine that your core is strongly Barack and they’d eat it up.

    I also feel like the democratizing tea idea is genius and something that you could definitely leverage marketing wise.

    Tea for all. Just a thought.

  4. The Small Business Social Network Says:

    Your product sounds like it could decide the election. I can not imagine how the combination of Obama and Hillary will be beat. Now that you add Honest Tea….The skys the limit.

    FYI, I came across your blog in the WSJ article. Congrats.

    Keith Brando
    http://sta.rtup.biz
    “The Facebook of Small Business”