“Trendy” Tea in Japan Makes Nikkei Trendy Magazine’s Top 30

The words ‘tea’ and ‘trendy’ may seem like odd words to see next to each other, but according to one of Japan’s top business trend-watchers Coca-Cola Japan has pulled it off, introducing an innovative new flavor to an under-served market.

Nikkei Trendy magazine’s Top 30 Hit Products of 2012 (Source: Nikkei Trendy Net), announced Nov. 1, saw Taiyo no Matecha ranked 17th on the influential listing – one of the few beverage brands to make the list, which featured the likes of new skyscraper Tokyo Skytree and Samsung Galaxy’s SIII mobile smartphone, to name a few.

Nikkei Trendy is one of Japan’s leading lifestyle and consumer trends magazines, with a wide audience of business readers in search of innovation and inspiration.

Much of Taiyo no Matecha’s success came from Coca-Cola Japan’s ability to communicate an exciting new flavour and an easy pick-me-up drink, targeted at the right people. With a clear message – this is not just another tea – Taiyo no Matecha stepped into a gap in the unsweetened tea market, revamping its traditional image and making it a little more energetic and lively.

Coke Products in Japan

Taiyo no Matecha made Japan's Nikkei Trendy Magazine's Top 30 Hit Products of 2012.

Taiyo no Matecha uses roasted mate tea leaves in its production, which are common in Latin America, where they offer a nice complement to the meat-heavy local diet. Leveraging that it pairs well with meat, the drink is positioned near butcher sections of supermarkets. Also, Coca-Cola Japan worked with top barbecue restaurant chain Gyu-Kaku, introducing the beverage to more than 600 branches across Japan.

With more than five million cases shipped since its launch in March Taiyo no Matecha has fared well among consumers since its launch, particularly in the 30s to 40s age group, creating a ‘trendy’ new evolution in Japan’s established beverage market.

Taiyo no Matecha is a Latin-style health tea which is entirely new for Japanese. Its launch in Japan was triggered by Matte Leão, the mate tea brand sold by Coca-Cola Brasil,” said Takashi Wasa, Vice President for Tea Category, Consumer Marketing, Coca-Cola Japan. “With a series of upcoming events in Brazil, such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, we hope to make effective use of these events to leap forward and develop the Taiyo no Matecha brand.”

Coca-Cola Japan also made the Nikkei Trendy list in 2008 with the Fanta Furu-Furu Shaker and in 2009 with I LOHAS drinking water.

Jennifer Lai is Editor at Eight Partnership who helps write stories for The Coca-Cola Company in Asia.