In the West, it’s grandma’s go-to iced tea brand. In China, it’s trying to rub elbows with the hip crowd. With growing competition from foreign tea suppliers like Teavana, Twinings and Beijing-based tea newcomer, Papp’s, Lipton is cashing in on China’s tea craze with the help of Shanghai Fashion Week’s newest platform for independent Chinese designers, Labelhood.
Lipton, which is owned by British-Dutch conglomerate Unilever, has had a 14-year career in China, but this week marked the first time the brand has had a pop-up store in the country. The brand’s four-day brick-and-mortar space gives Shanghai Fashion Week attendees at the second edition of Labelhood, which takes place across a series of exhibition spaces along Yuan Ming Yuan Road, a chance to customize their own tea drink by pairing French, Brazilian, and Italian-style black teas with a combination of fruits, syrups, and herbs.
“We wanted to give people the idea that Lipton is not only something you can drink at home, but you can have it on the go,” said Unilever China Associate Brand Director Megan Zhu. “We always see people holding a coffee on the street, but why not holding a tea?” Zhu said Lipton is planning to open a more expanded pop-up next year, and the eventual goal is to open a permanent tea bar.
Zhu said their key market is young consumers who care about lifestyle, so Lipton teamed up with several high-profile Chinese designers who are presenting at Labelhood to create limited-edition gift boxes. They each feature boxes of tea bags alongside products exclusively designed by the fashion all-stars: Angel Chen, who has collections with Lane Crawford and Opening Ceremony, designed peach and mango enamel pins to go alongside the peach and mango black tea; Yirantian, who has been a part of Vogue Italy’s young talents program created a black velvet choker to go along with red berry black tea; and deepmoss designer Xiaolu Liu, who debuted her Spring/Summer 2017 collection at Milan Fashion Week, created a lemon coaster to pair with a lemon black tea.
The three gift boxes are on display at the pop-up shop and available for purchase on Lipton’s Tmall flagship store, and those who purchase all three get entered in a chance to win a teabag-inspired handbag designed by Angel Chen.
Taking efforts a step further, Lipton invited KOL Tian Yuan to model the products in a video that was on a loop at the shop. Lipton is also live-streaming at one hour each day at Labelhood and giving social media followers on Tmall and WeChat a chance to win tickets to attend one of the fashion shows.
The campaign is part of an industry-wide trend to create multi-pronged experiences for millennials who are seeking something more than just a product on a shelf. “Young consumers like me don’t really care about the grade or origin of the different types of teas,” Zhu said. “But what the brand stands for, and what type of lifestyle is associated with that brand means a lot to me.”
Labelhood and some of the other Shanghai Fashion Week designers have several mass-market brands backing it, including Pepsi and KFC. CJ Yao designed her autumn/winter and spring/summer collections in collaboration with KFC, also in efforts to target China’s millennials. A selection of her designs are now available for purchase this week in Shanghai at Lane Crawford’s GreenCode pop-up shop.