Brand Storytelling: 5 Questions With Jayanthi Raja Segaran

by Helen Butterworth News

Pure Leaf wants to make sure consumers know the care that it takes in coming up with flavors and formulas for its Tea House Collection, and how it curates every aspect of the drinking experience—including a pop-up Tea House in New York’s Soho—for discriminating consumers.

The MasterCraft Series was created and produced by Creators League, PepsiCo’s in-house content creation studio, in partnership with INE Entertainment and Olson Engage. Partnering with New York-based celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson as host of the series, Pure Leaf draws on the insights of four artisan-designer-craftspeople-experts to tell the story of the brand as seen through the lenses of temperature, texture, fragrance and aesthetic. The experts:

-        Fragrance craftsman: Chandler Burr, Scent Expert and Author — known for his compelling scent dinners in which he he works with master chefs worldwide to create experiences that translate the relationship between scent and taste.

-        Aesthetic craftsman: Kamil Nawratil, Visual Artist — founder of Brooklyn-based VolvoxLabs, a cutting-edge media and visual design studio that creates digital sculptures and immersive audio-visual installations.

-        Temperature craftsman: Shintaro Okamoto, Ice Sculptor — founder of Queens, New York-based Okamoto Studio, whose creativity and talent transform crystal ice into frozen masterpieces.

-        Texture craftsman: Charlie Baker, Designer and Builder — founder of Queens, NY-based Baker Structures and a sought-after maker known for his unique, textural designs that incorporate elements from the earth.

Jayanthi Raja Segaran, Pure Leaf’s North America director of marketing, tells us more about the Pure Leaf brand, the tea business and the MasterCraft Series below:

How do you position the Pure Leaf brand within your portfolio?

There’s a distinction between the bottled and RTD (ready to drink) segment. Pure Leaf is in the premium tea segment and is a leader in that segment and available in a variety of packages. It’s known for its distinguished square bottle shape, and with the introduction of Tea House Collection we wanted to bring our consumers a little bit of that tea house culture in the bottled format, so you see us pushing even further with Tea House Collection. It’s in a glass bottle, while the typical Pure Leaf that our business has grown with is in a PET bottle.

What was the inspiration for Pure Leaf to introduce the Tea House line?

It’s a very different proposition from regular Pure Leaf. What we offer is unexpected flavor pairings. Lemon paired with honeysuckle, a fruit and floral combination. The green tea has ginger and apple, an herb and a fruit. And blackberry sage is really not a mainstream flavor. But if you were someone who was exposed to the culture of going to tea houses and having a teamaster blend unique flavors for you, this is a way to experience something like that.

Is Pure Leaf unique in bringing this kind of tea house experience to the US market?

We’re not sure what the competition is doing but putting it together in the package we’ve created is unique. Organic, unexpected combinations, a glass bottle with lighter flavor and profiles than typical iced tea, all brings something that’s quite unique and differentiated in the marketplace. Tea House is available on the shelf in the center aisle. In some groceries you might find it refrigerated as well, also in small format stores. It doesn’t require refrigeration but you consume it like iced tea.

In terms of brand storytelling and content marketing, how did you approach the video series?

We’re really inspired by the product, and the fact that we were trying to create a new flavor experience with this product. It’s not your everyday iced tea. And we wanted to reach out to other people that are trying to do the same. We wanted craftsmen to come together to pull off something unexpected, inspired by these flavors. And we thought that Marcus, given his creativity and his ability to blend seamlessly in the world of food and fashion and so many worlds, would be the perfect person. This isn’t as much a brand-created idea as it came out of our partnership with Marcus Samuelsson.

In explaining the essence of the brand, how do you make this series relevant to consumers?

If you think about these elements when you think of texture in a further-out form, you get to the idea of someone like Charlie (Baker), who worked on creating different textural formations with woodwork. But if you think about texture in food and beverage, it’s very important.

When you think about the mouthfeel of the iced tea products that we create, Tea House has different mouthfeel from Pure Leaf and from other teas we see in the marketplace. We were trying to get people to awaken their appreciation of iced tea. So talking about texture and exploring it in that way is to get people to understand what they’re exploring. The craftsmen are really interesting and they provide visual interest and storytelling interest in the series, so the content is really relevant to the product.