Liliana Caimacan is head of global innovation at Tata Global Beverages. She tells WARC why the business is looking beyond the black tea category and how partners are helping develop new product ideas.

Describe your day job and what its biggest challenges are right now.

As head of innovations at Tata Global Beverages, my job is focused on defining, developing and driving the innovation agenda. My role is to support the company ambition to transform the tea category, to reinvigorate what is a rather stable, even a little dull, category. Top of my innovation agenda is to bring new consumers to the category by offering them fresh and exciting experiences.

The main challenges we have are mostly related to the decline of the black tea category and losing younger consumers who choose coffee or cold drinks instead of tea. We now need to redefine the tea category and bring vibrancy and excitement to existing and potential customers, which will give us the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with younger consumers.

How are agencies helping to meet those challenges?

We are partnering with our suppliers and agencies to work on defining new product ideas, routes to market, and mixes which will give consumers new experiences and allow them to engage with tea or botanicals in a different, more compelling and experimental way.

We recently worked together with Geometry Global, using design techniques and behavioural change psychology, to create an innovation funnel. This enabled us to look really closely at the consumer’s needs and trends in the context of global market trends.

We’ve looked into different consumers profiles and demand spaces, mapped out the consumer journeys; based on this we’ve identified moments when tea, or drinks in general, can be part of day-to-day life and when they can help enhance the normal routine though positive experiences.

What role does strategy play in helping to meet those challenges?

Strategy is vital. It allows us first to define the role of innovation for the company and second to identify where, when and how we play, drive company growth, and increase our consumers’ engagement and loyalty. It also plays a huge role in our employees’ commitment and engagement to deliver the business objectives.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned this year?

How important it is to understand consumers, their needs and expectations – which continuously change – and how important is to find the right partners to work with and deliver the best experiences to our consumers.

Creating sustainable partnerships is key for the world we live in today to allow speed, agility and better execution when thinking of innovation

How do you expect your category to develop into next year?

The hot tea category is experiencing slight growth, driven by specialty categories like herbal, decaf or more unique and special blends. But tea is plateauing beyond this specific market and so we are looking to bring excitement and experiences in the cold drinks category.

What tech are you investing in or scaling up?

We are looking into scaling up our investment in data management capabilities which will allow us to better connect with consumers, better target the communication and allow the development of consumer engagement programs. We are aiming to shift further towards a data-driven marketing approach. We are focusing on developing brand campaigns which are led by strategic data-driven audience segmentation and programmatic approach to media buying.

We are also looking into developing our business beyond the black tea market, so we have a strong focus on driving growth into the cold infusions segment which is the big opportunity for us in 2019/2020.

Which skills are you looking to hire into your team?

I think the main skills of a great marketer today should be creativity, passion for consumers and brands, purpose driven, with ability to learn and adapt into a constant changing world. Last, but not least, they need to be extremely digitally savvy.

Liliana will be speaking at the Festival of Marketing which takes place on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th of October at Tobacco Dock, London.