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Starbucks' New Tea Launch In Asia Marks The Most Aggressive Brand Expansion Since 2008

Starbucks Aggressively Expands Brand in Asia With Tea|Fortune|Teavana

Starbucks Corporation SBUX 0.63% said on Monday it will begin heavily targeting the Asian market with a full line of tea flavors.

Starbucks noted that the tea market is quite large at $125 billion, and tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after plain water. The company will begin selling Teavana-branded products in more than 6,200 stores across 16 markets in the China and Asia Pacific region.

Starbucks added that its expansion across Asia marks the first time the company launched a brand on this scale since 2008 when it began selling the Via Ready Brew kit.

Starbucks wants to introduce a new "modern tea experience" to tea drinkers looking for "new and different tastes and experiences." However, there are some concerns if the company will see success selling Prickly Pear and Pomegranate Pearls flavored tea beverages to a region that places an emphasis on traditional tea flavors.

Speaking to Fortune, Starbucks' director of product innovation for China and Asia Pacific Vera Wang said that Starbucks is well aware of local preferences but the "growing middle class" in China are more than eager to experience the real "Starbucks experience."

"Being an Asian and living in Asia, we understand that Asia is basically a land of tea," she said. "The culture is so entrenched. So when we embark on Teavana, we show a lot of deep appreciation and respect for the tea culture that exists in Asia. Teavana is really about a modern take on Western tea that is departing from the traditional tea experience."

Should Starbucks be successful, it could conquer a highly lucrative market as China's tea industry itself is nearly ten times larger than its $9.5 billion coffee market.

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