Why I Paid $8 For Tea

I have become obsessively introspective when it comes to food purchasing.  Bear with me on this one.  So, what did teapigs do that convinced me their tea was worth 12X more than generic black tea? What does it take to get into the shopping cart?


First, what makes a product catch your eye?  What makes you walk over and pick it up? Traditionally marketers focus on snagging your attention in a manner not dissimilar from catching a fish with a shiny lure. Big brands use a type of market research called eye tracking.  They present a planogram (a store shelf mock-up) to a subject and use cameras to track their eye movement.  They want you to look at their product first.  When it doesn’st work that way, they make changes until it does. Then their competition does the same. It’ss basically an arms race.


I think this is crap. Well it’ss not total crap, but it’ss a tiny part of the equation. Getting me to spend $8 on a box of tea takes a lot more than catching my eye. So what does it take?  It needs to align with my values.  More so, it needs to bring me closer to who I want to be. I need to be able to see the experience that it will create. I have to aspire to live that moment, that life.  It needs to be more than just food.


I know that sounds a little intense, but we are not fish. Our purchasing behavior is undeniably psychologically driven. That is unless you live on Ramen noodles. In that case you are obeying only your wallet and tongue. So good. I digress.


Where were we?  Something caught my eye, I took a closer look, it made me a promise that aligned with my values and aspirations, and I bought it.  I’sm not sure I like where this is going.  Yup, I’sm not willing to dig into my deep psychological motivations for buying fancy tea. It’ss bound to get messy, especially considering that I really don’st even like tea.


Instead, I’sll talk about the more superficial reasons.  Their packaging is beautiful.  It’ss not high end. It’ss not snooty. It’ss not overdone. That’ss pretty cool because there is a lot of that in the tea isle. Also, I can see the actual product and it is visually distinct from other teas. It’ss more coarse, it looks almost like whole tea leaves.


So, in the end, how was it? Exquisite. No, I’sm kidding. It was good tea. It didn’st change my life.


I am interested in buying behavior because, of course, I want to understand how to make our product better (Also, as a product designer it’ss kinda my job). In a way, we are very different from teapigs . They are selling uber premium tea at an enormous markup.  We are selling a new kind of microwave popcorn with a thin margin. In the end, however, the challenge is the same. Our product will be expensive, and we will need to make a connection in the isle. After all, if we don’st get in the shopping cart, we don’st have a chance.