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Hot Drinks Category Review: Tea and Coffee

By Chris Elliott

According to Dunnhumby sales data 13 percent of all tea and coffee products are sold online. Brand View has reviewed the Discoverability, Representation and Engagement of tea and coffee brands in six major UK retailers, to identify who is performing well and who is struggling.

Tea category online review

In 2014, Twinings overtook Tetley Tea to become the UK’s second largest tea brand, with a 4.9 percent rise in sales across both its range of everyday tea bags and its premium speciality teas.

Despite its growth, PG Tips remains the UK’s most popular tea brand, with annual sales of £149 million, some £42 million more than Twinings (IRI).


Brand View can reveal that Yorkshire Tea, the UK’s fourth biggest tea brand, is PG Tips’ main online rival.

In October 2015, Yorkshire Tea was the most easily discoverable tea brand on the Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose sites.

When searching for the term “Tea” – Yorkshire Tea received the greatest average share of the first page of results with 23.2 percent.

Yorkshire Tea also had the greatest share of the first page of the category shelf, with an average 26 percent share across the retailers, except Sainsbury’s. The alphabetical organisation of Sainsbury’s ‘Everyday tea’ category shelf brought the overall average down to 21.7 percent.

tea brands first page search results
Data 1 October 2015


Own Label tea brands dominated the advertising space across the retailers’ websites. Between 7 September 2015 to 7 October 2015, Own Label products were promoted across 186 shelves in the six retailers, compared to promotions of PG Tips SKUs on 84 shelves.

Yorkshire Tea was promoted across just 19 shelves, Britain’s fifth largest brand Typhoo was promoted across 57 shelves, and Tetley Tea on just 28.


While Own Label products performed well for Discoverability, they were the most poorly represented online. Two of Asda’s Own Label tea listings, the Camomile Tea Bags 40 pack and Fairtrade Tagged Tea Bags 300 pack, did not contain the retailer’s name.

Product descriptions were missing on Own Label tea products in Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Waitrose. Asda and Morrisons’ Own Label tea listings were most negatively affected by missing product descriptions with 23.7 and 30.4 percent respectively suffering from a lack of text. However, every retailer included product images.

Typhoo and Yorkshire Tea were the best represented brands as all of their listings contained the accurate brand name, a product description and image. Conversely, PG Tips was missing product descriptions on 30.8 percent of its listings on the Asda website and Tetley was missing descriptions from 4.5 percent of its Tesco listings.

Tesco incorrectly referenced the Twinings brand name for two of its product listings. It was also hampered by missing product descriptions on the Asda and Waitrose websites.

twinings tea tesco website
Tesco website 7 October 2015



PG Tips and Own Label were the only brands to receive reviews in all five retailers (Tesco does not feature product reviews). The brands’ products scored a similar average rating across the retailers – PG Tips achieved an average review percentage of 85.4 percent and Own Label brands 85.1 percent.

Yorkshire Tea was the best performing brand online, ahead of market leader PG Tips, despite having 36 percent fewer listings. It received the highest average review percentage with 95.6 percent. Tetley had an average rating of 89.7 percent and Twinings 82.1 percent.

Yorkshire Tea performed well online for both Discoverability and Engagement in the big four retailers and also in Ocado and Waitrose. Other brands such as PG Tips, Tetley and Typhoo were affected by poor Discoverability and Engagement in Ocado and Waitrose.


Instant Coffee category online review

The Instant Coffee category differs from Tea as it has an obvious dominant category leader, NESCAFÉ. In 2014, NESCAFÉ had a 51 percent market share of the Instant Coffee category, which was boosted by the performance of its premium Azera sub-brand (Euromonitor).


The Discoverability of NESCAFÉ highlights the dominance of the brand – it had an average 41.1 percent share of the first page of results for the search term “Instant coffee”.

It was most dominant in Sainsbury’s with a 60 percent share of the first page of search results, whereas rival brand Kenco achieved just 6.7 percent.

Surprisingly, the majority of the NESCAFÉ products that returned on the Ocado and Waitrose websites were not its premium Azera sub-brand, but it’s Cap Colombie and Gold Blend products.

NESCAFÉ achieved a lower average share of the first page of the category shelf with 29.2 percent – the alphabetical organisation of the Sainsbury’s shelf lowered its Discoverability score.

Carte Noire was the worst performing of the major brands – no Carte Noire products returned on the first page of search results on the Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco websites.

Compared to the branded SKUs, Own Label coffee products were the most heavily promoted across the retailers’ websites – promoted on 72 shelves between 7 September 2015 and 7 October 2015. This was almost double the promotional visibility of NESCAFÉ which was featured in campaigns spanning 37 shelves.

coffee brands first page share
Data 1 October 2015


Carte Noire products were promoted on 23 shelves, ahead of Douwe Egberts on 21, and Kenco on just 16.


Own Label products were the most poorly represented online in the Coffee category. Asda neglected to include its name in the product name of four Own Label listings.

Some 35.7 percent of Asda’s Own Label coffee products were missing product descriptions, in Morrisons 30 percent were absent.

The Kenco brand name was correctly referenced in the majority of its product listings across the six retailers. However, Tesco abbreviated Douwe Egberts to “D/Egbert” on two of the brands eight product listings on the retailer’s’ site.

NESCAFÉ and Carte Noire were both inaccurately represented on the Morrisons website. One Carte Noire listing contained the brand name spelt incorrectly as “Carte Noir”. This is potentially very damaging to brand integrity as the incorrect brand name was particularly visible to shoppers as the product appeared on the first page of the category shelf.

The brand name NESCAFÉ was missing from two of its Cafe Menu listings in Morrisons with the manufacturer name “Nestlé” referenced instead.

nescafe incorrect product listing
Tesco website 7 October 2015


Asda and Morrisons’ poor record for Representation continued; Kenco was missing product descriptions from 10 percent of its listings on the Morrisons website and NESCAFÉ was missing product descriptions from 11.4 percent of its range on the Asda website.


Douwe Egberts had the greatest average review percentage of 92.1 percent; significantly ahead of the other brands which scored between 83.3 and 85 percent.

Douwe Egberts high average review percentage was driven by good ratings in Ocado, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. However, it suffered from poor Engagement scores in Morrisons – two reviews on its Classic Roast coffee 200g were particularly poor.

nescafe reviews morrisons
Morrisons website 9 October 2015


Carte Noire and Kenco had the lowest average review scores – these brands were affected by low review scores in Ocado in particular. The premium sub-brands Carte Noire Instinct and Kenco Millicano achieved the lowest scores in Ocado with many shoppers criticising the brand’s choice to change to large granules.

NESCAFÉ had exactly double the number of instant coffee listings in the six retailers compared to Kenco, and Carte Noire and Douwe Egberts had less than half the listings of Kenco. Yorkshire Tea’s success in the tea market, has demonstrated that having fewer product listings doesn’t mean you can’t challenge market leaders.

Kenco, Carte Noire and Douwe Egberts could invest more into their online strategies – ensuring products feature prominently in results for key search terms as well as on the category shelf, and increasing the usage of promotional banners in line with competitor strategies could really improve each brand’s online presence and drive sales.

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