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By 16th May 2016July 10th, 2023No Comments

More than just another CSR smoke-and-mirrors show

For FMCG’s in particular, getting your consumers to engage with your brand when you don’t have direct contact with them is a challenge.

Take Yorkshire Tea, for example. Simply selling boxes of teabags by the palletload to supermarkets is never going to endear the likes of you and me to the brand unless it actively encourages engagement.

Yet the brand has shot up the charts of British Favourites and seems to be holding up well.

So how have they done it?


Yorkshire Tea Cricket Embed Blog

Campaigns such as the Great Cricket Tea Challenge and their ongoing Yorkshire Tree projects give them a chance to have direct contact with their consumers.

What’s more, it’s the consumers that are reaching out to the brand rather than the other way round – surely the best way to measure engagement and turn loyalists into ambassadors.


The Yorkshire Tree project has become more than just another CSR smoke-and-mirrors show. Their packaging has undergone a mini-rebrand, replacing their logo with ‘Yorkshire Tree’ rather than ‘Yorkshire Tea’.

This is a bold move by no small means and it shows that the brand is serious about its purpose and what it stands for – proving that the culture and attractiveness of Yorkshire Tea goes well beyond just its logo.


Tea is quintessentially British, and so is Yorkshire. Arguably, both of those qualities could be seen as a little old-fashioned. But instead of shying away from the facts and pretending to be something it’s not, the brand has established itself as rooted in Yorkshire and unashamedly British.

The TV ads and online campaigns align the brand perfectly and successfully with the core of British tea-drinking society – cricket and eccentricity. And through that they can become, in their own words, “Exciting, Funny and Positive”. Splendid.

What haven’t they done?


No half-price tea will do for this bunch. They realise the value of their products and want to capture the delight of consumers with its quality and friendliness. It would be easy enough to simply push a new price-based promotion every other month and join the throng with everyone else.

Instead, they stick to their guns and focus on the brand image, purpose and proposition. That gives them a more sustainable relationship with consumers.


Their marketing team haven’t aimed at the top – they recognise that the very essence of the brand is niche, a bit cute and humbly British. They haven’t chosen a cut-throat campaign to clinically obliterate the competition. They haven’t adopted a big-brand approach, pretending to be a global superpower that consumers MUST buy. Oh no, not Yorkshire Tea. They declared they’re aiming to be the second largest tea brand in the UK.

That doesn’t mean second best, though. They recognise that to be the best they can be, they must be different to everyone else, not bigger than everyone else.

What’s in it for you?

Yorkshire Tea is undoubtedly a challenger in the market, and the same goes for many similar-sized British brands. But now, in their coming of age as a Great British Favourite, they’re not letting the heady heights get to them.

Instead of leaving things to chance on the supermarket shelves, Yorkshire Tea have built a real connection with consumers so that instead of being another option, their products are the first choice.

Here are four takeaways to help you learn from this fabulous brand:

  • Stay true to your roots. This may be, as in Yorkshire Tea’s case, a family-owned, cute-and-cuddly British favourite, or it may be something else. Whatever your foundational roots are, stay true;
  • It’s not all about price. They’ve done a very un-FMCG thing and let their culture win consumers rather than price promotions;
  • Don’t slash marketing investment. Tea is a declining market in the UK yet they decided to invest a marketing budget of £5million in 2015. And it’s reaped rewards;
  • It’s better to be different than it is to be better. They don’t aim to be the biggest in the UK. They know their place and accept that second-place isn’t second-best.

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Simon Besley

Author Simon Besley

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