Sweet Leaf Tea Question 1
What are the strengths and weaknesses of SLT’s corporate culture in terms of communications, as described in the case?
Sweet Leaf Tea was founded in 1997 by Clayton Christopher and David Smith. Seeking to share their love of sweet tea and their grandmother’s recipe, Christopher and Smith entered the read-to-drink tea market to share their love. Aimed to satisfy the thirst of 24-45 year old, health conscious, laid back individuals, Christopher and Smith partnered with musical festivals in Texas, Chicago, and Arizona to distributed Sweet Leaf Tea to the masses. As time went on, Sweet Leaf Tea expanded distribution, expanding into vending machines, 7-11 stores, and army bases. Sweet Leaf Tea brand also became the number one brand of ready-to-drink tea at Whole Foods grocery chains across the country (Argenti, 2013). Utilizing several channels, Sweet Leaf Tea has experienced both strengths and weaknesses when it comes to communicating to its desired and potential target markets.
Strengths. With any organization, deciding how to get its products and/or services to its intended market is one of the most important decisions that has to be made. With Sweet Leaf Tea, Clayton and Smith used a direct marketing approach to deliver their ready-to-drink tea to its intended target market. Direct marketing is used generate a reply in the form of a direct order, information request, and/or a visit to the selling location (Dogan, 2012). Direct mail, telephone marketing, television and radio are some of the many forms of direct marketing companies tend to use (Dogan, 2012). Using a direct marketing approach is very useful for any organization, especially organizations that start off small. Direct marketing helps small organizations to build their customer base on a local level by gaining customer loyalty. In turn, as customers begin word-of-mouth advertising, promotional levels increase, potentially allowing for expansion to serve more customers (Dogan, 2012). In Sweet Leaf Tea’s case, the use of sampling at musical festivals was the direct marketing approach Clayton and Smith utilized to gain interest in the beverage when the company first began. Social media (Facebook and Twitter), company website, and sponsoring musical festivals are some of the current direct marketing efforts Sweet Leaf Tea use.
Expanding into the mobile technology market is another one of Sweet Leaf Tea’s strengths when it comes to communicating its corporate culture. With so many households using mobile devices, venturing into the mobile technology market is another means to communicate with existing and new customers. Communicating through mobile devices allows for organizations to be free of physical constraints such as proximity and immobility. The mobile technology market also allows organizations to use games and other interactive tools to inform and promote its product and service offerings (Pelau & Zegreanu, 2010).
The use of direct marketing and mobile technology helps Sweet Leaf Tea a great deal to promote its culture of “cool and fun (Argenti, 2013).” Both approaches allows Sweet Leaf Tea to focus on their intended market of young, laid back individuals.
Weaknesses. Even though the use of mobile technology is a strength when it comes to communicating, it also can become a weakness if not used appropriately. Occasionally, mobile carriers or applications tend to sell customer profiles to third parties. Sending customer information to third parties could cause unsolicited communication that customers are unaware of. It is important that the organization are aware of opt-in and opt-out provisions as well as other conditions stipulated under the Protection of Personal Information Bill, Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, the Consumer Protection Act and the National Credit Act (“Direct marketing: unsolicited,” 2012).
In communicating its corporate culture of “cool and fun” (Argenti, 2013), Sweet Leaf Tea is potentially leaving out hundreds of potential customers. Having a narrow target market of young, laid back individuals takes the focus off of pre-teens, teenagers, and people over the age of 45. Sweet Leaf Tea could be losing out on a multiple segments of active, health conscious individuals who also enjoy the taste of sweet tea.
From a communications perspective, the strengths and weaknesses outlined in the Sweet Leaf Tea case study are related to its marketing efforts. Using direct marketing mediums, including mobile technology, are great methods to use to reach Sweet Leaf Tea’s target market of young, laid back, health conscious individuals. Though great in application, using such direct marketing tools could limit an organization from reaching full potential and market share. From a Biblical perspective, the Holy Bible speaks on using strengths and weaknesses to help become better over the long run. 2 Corinthians 2:10 (English Standard Version) states, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Sweet Leaf Tea has been able to identify its strengths and weaknesses, utilizing both to reach more customers and continue as a leader in the ready-to-go tea market.
Argenti, P. A. (2013). Corporate communication. (6 ed., pp. 68-70). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Dogan, M. S. (2012). DIRECT MARKETING – AN EFFICIENT COMMUNICATION TOOL. Anale. Seria Stiinte Economice. Timisoara, 18 399-403. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1398543999?accountid=12085.
Direct marketing: Unsolicited electronic communications. (2012, January 26). Mondaq Business Briefing. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA278106968&v=2.1&u=vic_liberty&it=r&p=ITOF&sw=w&asid=3d5e2226f6f621445b5ca31cc16e1bbf.
Pelau, C., & Zegreanu, P. (2010). Mobile marketing – The marketing for the next generation. Management & Marketing, 5(2), 101-116. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/749213167?accountid=12085.
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