ChaTraMue’s willingness to adapt to change is an example for all businesses
- By Pussadee Siriwatcharametta -
The “rose tea” fever from a few years ago came as a turning point in business for ChaTraMue, a Thai tea brand which has been serving customers in the domestic market for 73 years. The rise in popularity of the specialty tea gave new life to the ChaTraMue and put it back on the path to success.
In the beginning, the maker of ChaTraMue tea focused mainly on the wholesaling sector. That was a time when most tea drinkers, although very familiar with the product’s flavour, only realised the tea they drank was of the ChaTraMue brand when they saw ChaTraMue cans placed on display at tea shops they frequented. At that time, ChaTraMue tea didn’t even carry a brand name.
Over its 70 years so far in business, ChaTraMue has gone through numerous periods of turbulence, the worst of which was during a downturn in the tea market at the time Ms Phrawnarin’s father was at the helm of the business.
The situation was so dire that nine in ten customers at restaurants no longer ordered tea as they used to previously. In response, tea was something shops and restaurants rarely had in stock as customers were hard to come by.
“What my father did at that time was improve the quality of his tea so that customers felt the product was worth buying for its quality and reasonable price. He thought a price war would never work and could even exacerbate problems in the failing tea market,” she says.
The determination to maintain product quality was a key reason for the success of ChaTraMue and has helped the brand stay afloat and survive no matter how much Thai society or the market changes. This is a core value of the brand.
“We always believe that the most important part of our business is the high quality of our products. Marketing comes second.”
In the case of rose tea, for instance, the company never thought it would become such a phenomenon. The company was only looking for a new product line to add to its existing choices for customers.
But during the process of trial, testing, and adjusting the flavour of the new rose tea in order to make it enticing to drinkers, the company came across one particular property — the laxative effect.
Ms Phrawnarin admitted that she was at first reluctant to reveal this fact about the new product but in the end decided to come clean and tell customers the truth. Thanks to modern marketing strategies in the social media era, rose tea has become a hot product and the ChaTraMue brand has regained its popularity.
The tea manufacturing business, however, isn’t as rosy as it may seem, she says, adding that she learned the hard way about only investing in essential projects.
If she could go back in time, she says she probably wouldn’t have chosen to invest in renovating the office early in her career under the impression that a new look would help improve the product’s image.
“I would rather have chosen to spend the money we spent on office renovation on developing the company’s core business.”
A new challenge for the business under her leadership now is to adapt to constant change and never stop improving. Meanwhile new business goal has also been set for ChaTraMue brand — to become a Thai brand tea that is recognised globally.