If you’re a tea company, you’ve got company. There’s a lot of competition in stores for slots up and down the pricing scale; with consumer interest in teas going strong even in the face of other category declines, retailers and distributors are in the position to pick from a number of solid brands.
Such a situation might discourage many companies that haven’t yet become huge players, particularly in the face of the wall of established brands that are currently out there, everything from AriZona to Honest Tea.
But Eric Skae and his team at New Leaf have shown a remarkable ability to turn intimidating circumstance into focused brand-building. Recently, they’ve managed to weather debt, economic downturns, and a crowded field of competitors to turn the brand – positioned as the one tea that sits at the intersection of taste and health – into a bottled, mainstream alternative for many distributors. Coming off record months in March and April, moving from about a dozen employees to more than 30, and shaking off years of debt, New Leaf has spread across the country into a network of about 120 distributors. But that expansion is slowing, at least geographically, according to Skae.
“We’re going for depth now,” he said. “We want to dive deeper in the markets we have.”
Skae, like his newly-hired COO, Bill Sipper, has worked in sales and marketing for several successful beverage companies, including SoBe, AriZona, and a pre-Monster Hansen’s. He’s taken what he learned from expert marketers and is now applying it to his own model. BevNET stopped by New Leaf’s office in Old Tappan, N.J. for a chat with Skae.