The CMO Show:
Amy Smith on brand purpose...

Amy Smith, Global Brand Director at T2, sits down with host Mark Jones to discuss brand experience, sustainability, and using storytelling to communicate brand purpose.

A 2018 global survey of 29,530 end-consumers conducted by Accenture Strategy, revealed that 50% of consumers are attracted to buy from certain brands over others – beyond price and quality – because they:

1. stand up for societal and cultural issues they believe in; and
2. support and act upon causes they have in common (i.e. social, charitable).

T2 Tea’s Global Brand Director, Amy Smith, says the T2 Tea brand is built on the understanding that it has a corporate, social and environmental responsibility to use tea as a “global brewing force” for good.

The Melbourne-born company has doubled-down on its commitment to sustainable and ethical operations, and has reimagined what it means to be a ‘successful brand’ – putting its employees and the environment first in all of its business decisions. 

Amy underscores the opportunity brands have to not only define their success by their annual financial report, but by their wider social impact.

“I’ve spent the last year and a half with T2, looking at how we could turn [the brand] into not just a celebration of tea, but humanity as well… I think brands have the opportunity to connect people and they have many opportunities, but purpose-led brands in particular, they tend to perform better than others,” says Amy.

“It’s not about a transaction. It’s about looking at customers who could join you in some sort of a movement and benefit from it.”

A brand’s purpose goes by many names in marketing speak – purpose statement, mission statement, vision, manifesto and more. In any case, Amy swears by the rallying power of clarifying a brand’s reason for existing, and putting it into writing. She says if your purpose doesn’t make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you read it, you haven’t got it right.

“Eventually when we landed on [T2 Tea’s manifesto], I thought ‘No, this is it. We could stick that up outside the front door and say, hey, this is what we’re about. This is what we believe in’,” says Amy.

Equally important is to then use that defined brand purpose to inform business decision-making, internal and external communications, and the holistic customer experience. Amy says marketers must be authentic storytellers to influence beliefs and take customers on a journey of discovery.

“Great brands – I believe – are built from the inside out, and they’re built with great storytelling, but the storytelling has to be authentic and it has to be something that you are absolutely, able to stand by and take people along with you,” says Amy.

Tune into this episode of The CMO Show to find out how marketers can authentically lead with purpose.

Resources

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The CMO Show production team

Producers – Charlotte Goodwin & Stephanie Woo

Audio Engineers – Tom Henderson & Daniel Marr

Got an idea for an upcoming episode or want to be a guest on The CMO Show? We’d love to hear from you: cmoshow@filteredmedia.com.au.

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Transcript:

Mark Jones:

In today’s world, purpose is paramount to business success. 

According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Marketing Trends report, brands that authentically lead with purpose witness higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors. But what does it mean to ‘authentically lead with purpose’?

While healthy profit is a welcome side-effect of a well-defined organisational purpose, a brand’s mission should take into account its social and environmental responsibility. So, how will your brand leave behind a positive impact on the world?

Mark Jones:

Hello friends! Mark Jones here. How are you? It’s great to have you with us again on The CMO Show. My guest today is Amy Smith. She’s Global Brand Director at T2, of course the tea company and an incredible brand.

And I’ve got to say this, every conversation I have with people on The CMO Show is great, but I particularly enjoyed this one. We talked about all my favourite subjects. We talked about brand experience, and sustainability, and using storytelling to communicate organisational purpose, and she’s got such a great story to tell. 

So let’s just go straight into my conversation with Amy Smith from T2. 

Mark Jones:

Amy, thanks for joining us.

Amy Smith:

Oh Mark, you’re so welcome. Thrilled to be here sitting in Victoria. I mean, what else have I got to do? No, I’ve got lots to do. This is great.

Mark Jones:

(Laughs) I couldn’t think of anything else better to be doing right now either.

Mark Jones:

 And we are drinking tea. Are we not Amy?

Amy Smith:

We are drinking tea. Yes. In fact, I think we’ve all drunk a lot of tea in lock down because you can only drink so much coffee. I’m going to ask you about the tea that you’re drinking because it looks quite strong, what have you got there?

Mark Jones:

So what I’ve got here is the Russian Caravan. It’s not your average Russian Caravan. It’s proper Russian Caravan.

Amy Smith:

It’s the real deal, and I know we were chatting about this before, a lot of the T2 Teas are fairly adventurous and they’ve always kind of gone for the creative side of naming teas, but Russian Caravan obviously  exists as a tea that plenty of other people have. It’s one of my favourites along with Lapsang souchong because I like the smoky teas, but one of the things about the one you’re drinking is it’s whole leaf, nothing but the leaf, which is really, really important because that’s why you get such a big flavour. There’s no particles of anything else or additives, so that’s a big plus for a lot of the flavour components that we have in our teas. It really… it’s like wine. You get what you pay for and this is a really terrific tea. 

Mark Jones:

It’s got that smoky vibe. So you’re telling me this story about back in ye olde days-

Amy Smith:

Yeah.

Mark Jones:

With the caravans and all of the smoke-

Amy Smith:

Transporting.

Mark Jones:

Right.

Amy Smith:

Yeah.

Mark Jones:

That got caught up into the flavour of the tea. So serendipity kind of brought us to today. So you get to take that history and then infuse it into the now. So what I like about that is people don’t realise just how much of a role storytelling plays in tea. So we talk about wine just to pick another drinking category. We think about wine as storytelling, and that’s been used in marketing and brand. But tea, right?

Amy Smith:

Yeah, and I think that the most extraordinary thing is with tea, the variety is extraordinary and as global brand director, one of the first things that I had to do was think about that storytelling and think about the diversity – pardon the tea pun.

Mark Jones:

I see what you did there.

Amy Smith:

I know, I do like it. So that was all around travelling the world, looking at all the different kinds of cultures, looking at all the different flavours, and indeed the rituals that they have, everybody loves them. Whether it’s matcha that samurais used to drink before they went to battle. Whether it’s, as you say, the Russian caravan, where it just so happened on the trains, to be in the right caravan that was near the smoky fire that then infused it and it became this smoky Russian caravan tea. Whether it’s Buddhas tears, which is a beautiful tea where every single one is hand rolled of these incredible balls of tea, and then they unfurl and they have this incredible flavour.

Amy Smith:

But I look at it and think, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if the world actually saw different flavours, colours, cultures, tastes through the lens of tea?” Because I would wager that no one would get voted off any island.  You know, there wouldn’t be all of this feeling of fear of the other or something that’s different. Because when it comes to tea, everybody goes, “Oh, what’s that? What are you drinking? How do you have it?” That seems to me to be the biggest opportunity of all is just this sense of uniting the world through a celebration of all the differences I guess, and the business of T2 has done that for 26 years.

Mark Jones:

What you’re saying to me is that if we all sat down for a good cuppa and actually took a moment to think about what we’re drinking – we’d actually change the world.

Amy Smith:

I’m saying that I absolutely believe that there is unity in diversity. A cup for me, a cup for you T2 is meant to be an invitation. There is meant to be reciprocity. There is meant to be generosity and there’s meant to be a moment that you can take, whether it’s just to reflect or whether it’s something that you want to share with another person, to have that connection, or that sense of connectedness and belonging, and that’s very much part of the kind of vision for the brand. And look, the reality is that I talk about T2 as the Cirque De Soleil of tea, because it’s founder was extraordinarily inspired by theatre and by art and by fashion and by all sorts of wonderful things. It was not about we’re just going to have a tea business, it was a business that started in Fitzroy in Melbourne, which is like the home of coffee. Everyone’s like, “That’s barista kind of territory.”

Mark Jones:

Yeah. Madness.

Amy Smith:

Madness and she said, “Well what about barista versus brew master? Let’s try to find a way to get people to just fall in love with the variety and the extraordinary beauty, I guess of tea.” 

Mark Jones:

There’s something about this that I’m really liking is because some people have a job in marketing as a brand director and you kind of take on the attributes of the brand, right? Because that’s your job. I’ve got to start living the brand. I joined a new company, I got to get my head around the brand. I’ve got to kind of be the brand. I’ve got to steward this thing. It sounds to me like this wasn’t a hard step for you.

Amy Smith:

No.

Mark Jones:

So tell me how this happened?

Amy Smith:

Well I was very lucky. I spent a lot of time working for Dan Wieden in Wieden+Kennedy in the UK and set up the London agency that has always had Nike as they’re main client.

Amy Smith:

I spent probably 12 years in London, but working with Nike and a few other companies that were all very much on that purpose led. That it’s got to have a higher purpose. That there has to be some betterment. There’s got to be something that benefits people or planet.

Mark Jones:

Yes.

Amy Smith:

And that it’s not about a transaction. It’s about looking at customers who could join you in some sort of a movement and benefit from it. So purpose led brands has always been something that I’ve loved doing. I’ve spent the last year and a half with T2, really as I said before, looking at how we could turn this into not just a celebration of tea, but humanity as well. And I think brands have the opportunity to connect people and they have many opportunities, but purpose led brands in particular, they tend to perform better than others. But they also have a lot more fun because customers tend to be a lot more engaged and you can do a lot more cool stuff around collaborating. You can do a lot more cool stuff around innovation and more importantly, the people in the organisation tend to be much more energised if they’re coming to work every day and they’re really believing that the brand that they’re working for and the business that they’re in is making a positive impact.

Amy Smith:

You look at profitability and purpose, they used to be mutually exclusive and now, they’re kind of inextricably linked. 

Mark Jones:

Now, I’ve got to tell you how excited I am for this conversation and look, this show is not about me and it’s not about Filtered Media, but as an agency, we’ve actually made a strategic decision to focus on purpose driven storytelling for purpose driven brands as our call to arms for the next 10 years, and we’re on the B Corp certification path. Not too many steps to go. I know that you guys are obviously already flying the B Corp flag. And I’ve just been looking through your LinkedIn and I can see this golden thread of purpose driven work, and you’re kind of speaking to that. But why you think that purpose driven strategies for organisations as a whole now is not just an interesting side conversation, but the whole game. Why is it so important now?

Amy Smith:

 Our bullseye customer is 25 to 44. They’re a quarter of the population, certainly in the US, they’re worth about 500 billion. So they control the purse strings of the household decisions around what to buy and are very vocal about buying stuff that’s ethical, sustainable-

Mark Jones:

Well we’re both parents of teenagers and we know this.

Amy Smith:

We are. We are and I get it all the time. “Mum, is that organic? Mum, that’s got pesticides on it. Mum.” You know? And I’m like, “Well you’re actually 18. Can you just go get your own?”

Mark Jones:

Yeah.

Amy Smith:

But look, I think that from that perspective, and I found this a lot when I worked at Grill’d and developed a lot with a terrific team there. A lot of the plant based options and looking at ethical proteins and I think that there’s been a massive shift. ow people’s ideology is not just their biology. It’s their social groups, it’s kind of the brands they support, that there’s a lot more forensic interest in the behaviours from when I was first originally starting out in marketing. That behind closed doors stuff was never front and centre, whereas now everybody who’s got a camera is a journalist. Everybody who’s got the internet can dig, and that’s why I think for the companies that have got ahead of that and really turned that to their competitive advantage and actually, not just competed everything and clicked every box, but taking customers on a… I hate the word journey, but on that journey.

Amy Smith:

They tend to be companies that have maintained much better retention rates. They are more profitable. 

Amy Smith:

Great brands I believe are built from the inside out, and they’re built in great storytelling, but the storytelling has to be authentic and it has to be something that you are absolutely able to stand by and able to take people along with you.

Amy Smith:

So I think that because customers expect it now.

Mark Jones:

Right.

Amy Smith:

And not just because customers expect it, but because we, I believe should be using our business’ force for good, you know? We got the opportunity. We’ve got massive platforms.  In T2’s case, we’ve got a really sizable, what I call brewing force for good, which is our tea society. They’re fascinated by where do you source the teas from? How do you get that flavour? How do you brew it? What are you doing in the communities that you’re doing stuff in? You know, the more engaged your customer is, the more engaged your team members are internally. The more profitable you’re going to be.

Mark Jones:

Right, and as you say, it is customer-driven and it’s a sign that these global movements for sustainability, for supply chains being ethical, all the way to, in your case, to the plantations. We expect this and we’re going to actively choose ethical, sustainable brands over others. I just wondered to what extent and how far that goes. And for example, how much of a premium are you prepared to pay?

Amy Smith:

Well it’s always a good question because everyone always says in any research groups, “Of course I’d pay more.” Whether I do or not, I don’t know. I think that there’s sort of a holy trinity of stuff that you need to get right. No one’s going to buy something that, particularly when it comes to food and beverage, that tastes awful but is sustainable. You really have to focus on the taste and all sorts of those cooperative components that go into making a great cup of tea.

The packaging and looking at everything being compostable, reusable, recyclable, absolutely, got to have it. We were very, very before COVID, very concerned about plastic. Now our tea are all cellulose or plant based plastic, because people are concerned more, I think, with hygiene now than they’ve ever been and the concept of potential for contamination, nobody wants that. So it’s gone from keeping something fresh to making sure that it’s not contaminated and it’s fresh. But nevertheless, looking at plastic and alternatives is a really important thing.

One of the beauty things about T2 is it’s such a colourful brand, but when I sat with a lot of customers and particularly with our gifting they’re like, “Oh I love it. It’s so shiny and I love shiny things, and it’s so beautiful. But I feel so guilty because I’m sure it’s not sustainable.” Well I realise that we haven’t been talking about the fact that everything is printed on FAC paper, which is Forest Alliance Paper. Everything, all of our gifting is recyclable and the dyes that are so vibrant are all vegetable base. We’re not using any petroleum based dyes or anything like that. So I didn’t have to do much, but really get under the bonnet and I had this great boss who was responsible for BMW advertising in the UK, and he used to, well say very loudly to me when I was working for him, “You must interrogate a product till it confesses its strengths.”

Mark Jones:

That’s a great line.

Amy Smith:

 Really, all I had to do was get under the bonnet of this brand. Once we settled on diversity and going from tea to humanity, and then look at all of the storytelling that relates to the simplest things like “Why is it so pretty? What are you printing it on? Why are the colours so vibrant? How do you do that in a way that’s sustainable? How do you keep my tea fresh but do no harm to the planet?” 

Mark Jones:

 You’ve been on this journey to interrogate the brand. I’ve got to confess I didn’t know until recently the extent to which you really have been pushing hard into the sustainability space. The interesting thing about tea more broadly is just that it’s a commodity, right? It’s a commodity product. Right? And you’re in the supermarket and you’re shopping and then on the way out, you might walk past the T2 store. So you’ve got this interesting play in the consumer mind of commodity versus specialist product and trying to get your head around how that kind of works, and for me actually, brand awareness is being built through your retail presence. So if you can kind of thread for me the retail strategy into what you’ve just been saying, how have you actively sought to change the way that you communicate subconsciously to consumers this idea of not just bright and shiny and premium or better, but good? How do you get that across? Because I’m holding this bright shiny orange box, which is fabulous, right? But it doesn’t scream to me sustainable.

Amy Smith:

No. So that’s a really good point. A lot of the storytelling that’s happening at the moment is now. We have got our B Corp accreditation and we’ve produced the impact report. It’s the second impact report, which is just basically showing the progress along the way. We’re now being a lot more overt in all the marketing comms, and we also are heroing really simple things like the tea bag, which is made from entirely plant based sources. It’s a big deal at the moment. People are really arcing up about the fact that plastic has been used, not just in the contents, but in the making of. So we’re kind of pulling it back to the basics around basic packaging, recyclable, reusable, compostable tea bags made of entirely plant based sources.

Amy Smith:

Looking at how we can take waste out of the supply chain and divert stuff from landfill by the reduction of plastics and using other substances. I saw something the other day that said, 67% of Australian customers want to see retailers doing stuff more sustainably. If you think about what we’ve gone through with COVID, the thing people loved about the stores was going into this sort of wonderland. Well you’re not allowed to do any smelling, touching, tasting anymore.

Amy Smith:

So we’ve had to really look at – and we’re an omnichannel business – how do you communicate flavour and taste and sustainability and the reasons why we charge the premium that we do? How do you do that when you physically aren’t able to, from a sensorial point of view, do wet sampling and all that stuff that we used to do, and that’s meant that the storytelling now around the stores has had to dial up enormously. It’s also meant that we’ve looked at our supermarket strategy and now we’re very much a long way down the track in terms of that, and looking at the storytelling opportunities around the brand for that Millennial customer that supermarkets are really wanting to have in their store.

Mark Jones: 

Right.

Mark Jones:

 And so you’re now thinking what message can I get across in a nanosecond? I’m scrolling past and what can I put in there to scream at them sustainable or whatever the keyword is. Is that right?

Amy Smith:

Yeah, and also just really focusing in the imagery, so all of the photography that we’re doing now where we’re really showing whole ingredients so you can actually see what are you getting, and how it is the whole leaf and nothing but the leaf. And that sort of stuff that is really as I say, that interrogating down to the minute detail. 

Amy Smith:

You can’t do sustainability without getting into the detail of it.

Mark Jones:

And telling that story consistently and in really new and interesting ways. As a little interesting kind of side note, Patagonia, a famous brand for storytelling from an environmental sustainability point of view, recently released a short film. They’ve actually gone from the product marketing type stuff, right into this whole piece on the state of forests and National parks in North America. Is that kind of thinking starting to come into your mind? You’re thinking “How large can we go with this?”

Amy Smith:

Well we had our first live webinar with a panellist the other night, and we had 364 people register for it. Basically to hear our sustainability journey, and I was gobsmacked. I thought we might get 100, you know?

And I was astonished at how educated that customer actually is. The questions that were asked, we didn’t just talk about the wins. We talked about some of the progress along the way and some of the things that didn’t work is almost as interesting, you know? The point is that you’re trying a range of options. So we got a lot of questions about “So how did you get it there and what were the things along the way that didn’t work out?” And why there’s so many challenges with the fruits and the herbal teas, which is the biggest growth sector at the moment. Black tea’s been in decline for quite a long time and because a lot of these ingredients are sourced from very exotic places and people want it to taste like dragon fruit. They want it to taste like packs of peach. They want it to taste like a real peach.

Amy Smith:

So there’s a lot of things that you have to balance, but I honestly believe that this is probably the hottest topic at the moment is not just the Simon Sinek’s “It’s not what you do, but why you it, it’s how.” And this is now for me, how are you doing it has become yeah, really important.

Mark Jones:

But it sounds to me like you’ve really owned the concept of category story. So we’re trying to own this whole tea category in terms of what it means, so that the focus isn’t, as I’m hearing it, it’s not on, “well obviously our tea’s the best”, but you’re not saying “Our tea’s the best.” And you’re not saying “Our tea’s the most sustainable,” either from what I can hear. Because I guess many people can do that, right? If they do the same thing, they could follow the same path as you. What you are saying is “We know the tea world and the feeling and the environment,” if you like, or the society that’s created through tea. Is that a summary of how you’re thinking about-

Amy Smith:

We absolutely are obsessed with it. I describe it as not the “what if” business, it’s the “why not.” So someone will say, “Am, what if we made a tea, do you think we should make a tea that’s like tasting a lamington?” Sure. I look at and when I say the playfulness of this brand, it often takes things that shouldn’t be done and does them, because it can’t not do them. If you can invite people in to play and you can invite people in to open up their palete and see our world of tea beyond just the tea that you’ve known, people become very excited about it. There’s a lot of brewing tools and beautiful stuff to have.

Mark Jones:

I wonder though, it’s interesting that the marketing agenda for the longest time now has been dominated by data driven narratives. So show me the impact of that. Show me the measurement, connect the dots. I want to see the analytics. I want to get more information. I want to just really have the smartest collection of data and insights compared to everyone else. Is that something that you’re less concerned about, or is that just hygiene for you?

Amy Smith:

No, I think that’s hugely important, but I think it’s there, not to then determine or dictate or I guess to hold you back from imagination and we’ve got a brilliant product team They look at everything, art, culture, film, fashion, sculpture, everything you can think of and come up with these extraordinary patterns and designs. One of the things I’ve said to them I don’t think we do enough of is really showing the layering of some of the designs, and how we’ll mix a really modern geometric design on a really conventional, botanical, English botanical design and suddenly you’ve got something new. And the guiding principle, whether it’s the tea or the tea wares has always been that it’s a modern twist on an ancient ritual.

Mark Jones:

Got it.

Amy Smith:

So kind of thinking about the next generation of tea lovers, what are we actually connecting them to do, feel, experience? What is the purpose of it? 

Mark Jones:

Yeah.

Amy Smith:

But I think that the creativity of this brand-

Mark Jones:

Yes.

Amy Smith:

It’s so embedded, creativity and creative thinking. So the data is important, especially understanding, I guess the emotionality and the patterns of purchasing and being able to do a lot of pairings. But I think the reality is that we need to constantly accept that to have any attention from a customer is such an honour, so don’t be boring.

Mark Jones:

I gotta say and I do love it, really investing as a brand into that emotional high ground and inviting customers into a narrative that is inspiring and that they get straight away. I really think that is something that everybody should be really paying a lot of attention to and learning from. I want to ask you this question, what does your brand believe?

Amy Smith:

Oh, our brand believes that the world is more beautiful because of the things that are different, you know? Whether it’s flavour, taste, geography, colour. That the world is more beautiful because of its diversity and in fact, there’s unity in that, and that is something to be celebrated and a bit like a chef celebrates different cuisine and creates fusions, you know? That actually celebrates the flavours of different cultures. We’re kind of obsessed with at a human level saying that diversity is something that we are very, very passionate about because at a product level and at a human level, it’s really important to us.

Amy Smith:

I think that if there’s one thing that the ritual of tea does, a cup of tea when you think about it as a little component of the day, it’s rarely something that people rush. It’s rarely something that people don’t look forward to or take a moment out for reflection. So I think tea itself in the ritual allows us to slow down, stop, sip, slurp, let go, travel beyond the places we know. That this is an opportunity to connect, hear a point of view that can be life changing.

Mark Jones:

Yeah.

Amy Smith:

It also isn’t like coffee where you’re really slamming it down because you need to get going, you know? This is a pause. This is a press pause and maybe that’s the most extraordinary thing about COVID is that it’s been a very long pause for us Victorians, but it has forced us to think about the difference between how we are being in the world versus what we’re doing in the world.

Mark Jones:

And look, the other narrative or connection point I think for many people listening will be this analytical understanding of customer experience. You’re reflecting this idea that when customers enjoy our product, there’s actually a whole other experience that it’s facilitating outside of, “I bought a thing and I’m using a thing, and how long it took me to brew it.” Just explain to me, how do you get to that level of insight? Because if you’re in a B2B environment, or something that’s far more kind of complicated or harder to creatively get into. How do you get that awareness? 

Amy Smith:

Well I think this is where the marketing is so important and the packaging and the design and first of all, most of the stuff is incredibly visually appealing. We drink, we eat with our eyes. So I think there’s certain things that when we looked at sustainability, people don’t want to just get a brown paper package tied up with string. We’ve got to do something that feels like the Net-a-Porter of tea. It’s beautiful, you know? It’s got that kind of… that T2 twist to it. And also because within that, it’s speaking to the type of person that you are. So to be part of the world, you’ve got to think continuously about showing stuff that’s inspiring, that’s adventurous. The brand is adventurous.

Mark Jones:

Understand your customer’s world.

Amy Smith:

Understand the world and understand them beyond the function of the category or tea, what turns them on? What inspires them? If you go to the T2 fan page on Facebook, which I am on every morning.

Mark Jones:

Is that right? Well done.

Amy Smith:

So people will say, “Oh my god, have you tried this yet?” “No I haven’t.” “Oh, you’ve got to get it and try it with this and try it with that.”

Mark Jones:

Are you commenting? Sorry, are you commenting-

Amy Smith:

I go in and just say “Thank you and this is where you can get it.”

Mark Jones:

Do you say who you are or just-

Amy Smith:

No.

Mark Jones:

No, no. Okay right. So just I’m another fan.

Amy Smith:

I would say. I think, no matter whether I’ve been starting out or whether I’m a global brand director, I am obsessed with listening because that’s part of the T2 fan page thing for me is you’re hearing it direct from customers.

Mark Jones:

Look, there’s a good lesson in that and I found this to be one of the great ironies of social is that social promised us two way interaction between brands and customers. And yet, unfortunately, I come across, still many marketers. who are in a one way push dynamic, you know? They’re not spending as much time in the listening mode. And these tools and opportunities, you’re talking about a group here, it’s right there. It’s presumably not much more expensive than your time to get those sorts of inspiration and input, right?

Amy Smith:

Well now there are so many channels, I mean there are so many channels that indeed marketers have to listen to, particularly if you’re an omnichannel business and although that might seem to be a herculean task, it’s probably the single most valuable thing. If you’re a retailer, you’ve got active research day in, day out and the degree to which you can then use the insights from that to look at supply chain issues, to look at some product design, to look at packaging, to look at the experiential side, to look at. And that’s where I feel like the businesses that are listening, that are really listening, they’ve got an advantage.

Mark Jones:

People would say, “You need to be transparent about your supply chain and what you’re doing and be transparent about…” You say all of these things and you’re doing all of these things, and yes, you’re listening but how do you make that happen? So I think how do we push past the cynicism and the jargon busting that is also part and parcel of the job, right? Because you’re saying some things last, other things go. How do you wrestle with that dilemma?

Amy Smith:

Well I think you’ve got to remember too that when we started looking at say the story of the teabag, and everyone’s like “Why would you want to talk about the teabag?” And I’m like, “Well because there’s A, there’s a bit of a focus on it at the moment. B, our teabags are here for a good time, not a long time.” That’s the kind of thought and I say that because that gets you chuckling, and I’ve captured your imagination and then you might want to learn more about the material, what it’s made of. But you got to think about taking some of these concepts and trying to not use jargon. I mean, that’s probably I think what brands don’t do. They speak in consumer speak and you see it all the time, and you think “Why? Why can’t I just say it?” If I was selling it to you, I’d tell you a great story, Russian Caravan.

Mark Jones:

Yes.

Amy Smith:

I think we look at marketing and we think of it as marketing or advertising. It’s all just a conversation.

Mark Jones:

Yeah. We have to speak in plain English.

Amy Smith:

Exactly. 

Mark Jones:

Right. In other words, what would you say in conversation to somebody? How would you make that relevant and interesting, right? And use those words. Yeah. Hey, we’ve been having such an awesome conversation, I actually don’t want it to end, but we kind of need to probably for sake of everybody listening, but using that as a segue to kind of maybe temporarily landing the plane, or choosing some other analogy.

Amy Smith:

Yep.

Mark Jones:

I want to get a sense of what you’ve learned from the sustainability report that you referenced earlier as kind of a throw forward, right? So what are the mega trends we need to be thinking about in sustainability, in purpose-driven brands. If you want to see yourself as part of a broader movement of organisations that are effectively changing the world in their own ways, just give us a sense of what’s coming and drawing on that report.

Amy Smith:

I think ethical and sustainable sourcing of product, whether it’s teawears or in our case, the tea itself. Understanding that there’s a community impact that we source from the same places as other people from the main tea regions of the world. There are ways to do that. There are ways to do it and there are ways not to do it. 

Amy Smith:

From a sourcing perspective, I think there’s a lot more interest and focus on “but where did it come from?” and the people that made it and understanding the impact locally on those communities. The second thing I think is really important is we’ve got to somehow tackle the environment. I know there are naysayers about climate change, but looking at how we can reduce our carbon footprint. In our case, and maybe this is the case for a lot of retailers, we’re really looking, given that the online business has really grown during COVID, that whole end to end whether it’s the packaging or the materials that were kind of sent and stuff. I think we’ve all seen the growth of online. How do we do that responsibly? How do we do that sustainably? I think is super important as well, and the treatment of your own people. I mean, part of the B Corp accreditation is how you actually treat your own folk.

Mark Jones:

Right. Yep. Right, because obviously they amplify your message too. And I wonder to what extent you might need to think about, how do we partner in richer and deeper ways with like-minded folk, right? B Corp of course is a community that does that already, that seems to be increasingly this idea of coopetition or just even brand partnerships becomes far more strategic in terms of like-minded people, and making a difference. 

Amy Smith:

And That’s why, you know, if your purpose statement, which is what we really started with a manifesto that became a purpose statement and I must have written about 27 versions of it, but eventually when we landed on it, I thought “No, this is it. We could stick that up outside the front door and say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re about. This is what we believe in.’ If you like the look of this, then we’d love to talk to you.” You know? But I think, if the people have got purpose statements that feel, as you say marketing speak, and are not really getting the hairs on the back of the neck, are not really grabbing you by the throat and going wow. Then that’s a really good place to start.

Mark Jones:

Right. Yeah, yeah.

Amy Smith:

So people are going “You know what? We can absolutely do this.” So I feel like keeping it really simple, but something that’s super energising.

Mark Jones:

Yeah, exactly and from a movement point of view, that’s the goal here. We start out with good intentions. We give it a name. We really socialise it internally, we build a team and we work through the supply chain and then ultimately you want to create this movement, right? And a movement only grows when people get it straight away, they talk about it, they socialise it and they believe in the social purpose. They believe in what it does in the world, right? Otherwise you can get people into it. It’s too complicated.

Amy Smith:

And then you got to walk the talk.

Mark Jones:

Right, keep it up. So maybe that’s then next step, right? Keep it up.

Amy Smith:

That’s the next step. Offsetting carbon is one thing, but looking at how to achieve carbon neutrality, looking at energy, looking at water, looking at waste, even thinking about some of the other brands and what they’re doing at a local store level. Empowering store managers to create a mini movement in their own stores about how they recycle or how they’re doing some of that stuff. All of our stores, they compost the tea that people try. It’s all that sort of circular stuff.

Mark Jones:

Yeah.

Amy Smith:

I will say that you then become a brand that people want to work for.

Mark Jones:

I’ve really, really enjoyed our conversation today. Thank you for being so generous with your insights and your passion and just getting us excited about the possibility of purpose-driven brands and the emotional high ground. Amy, thank you so much for being our guest on The CMO Show.

Amy Smith:

Thank you so much for having me.

Mark Jones: 

So that was Amy Smith, I really hope you enjoyed our conversation.

I think T2 is such a great example of a brand that is crystal clear on its purpose. And it’s also really clear about how it uses that purpose as a key lens for decision-making, for communications and creating great customer experiences.

And in particular, I loved Amy’s passion for creating deeper connections with customers and championing positive change in the world. If you can excuse the pun, I reckon they’re brewing up a world that benefits us all – see what I did there?

I’ll move on quickly. If this is your first time tuning in to the show, make sure you do “subscribe” on all your favourite channels, and if you feel so inclined, give us a “rating and review” on Apple Podcasts to get our CMO insights, from all of these great conversations, in the ears of more marketers.

So that’s it for this episode of The CMO Show. As always, it’s been great to have you with us. Until next time.

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