Short background of company
TSUJIRI is a Matcha Tea franchise specialising in Matcha desserts and beverages, such as parfaits, shaved ice desserts, teas, lattes, and even take-home products such as tea bowls and tea powders.
TSUJIRI’s rich history began in 1860. Originally established in Uji, Kyoto, Japan by founder Riemon Tsuji, it helped advance the tea industry and marketed itself on its rich flavours, freshness of ingredients, and Japanese culture.
Today, it has expanded across Asia and now has 3 branches set up in Singapore at high traffic areas – The first branch being situated at 100AM Tanjong Pagar, the second at 313 Somerset, and the latest branch at The Central. However, the Singaporean branches have been underperforming for the past three years, with low sales and weak social media presence as compared to its many competitors in the industry. As such, our paper seeks to identify possible ways to improve TSUJIRI Singapore’s social media presence and reach in an effort to increase sales.
Target demographic of TSUJIRI
TSUJIRI targets Japanese aficionados along with Matcha lovers, competing with other Matcha Tea stores with a strong foothold in the industry such as Matchaya and Nana’s Green Tea Cafe. With its premium pricing and locations, it also contends with other retailers of similarly priced desserts and drinks such as Starbucks and Costa Coffee. This results in a rather unfocused marketing strategy as their target audience encompasses a wide range of people with different tastes across all-age groups and genders.
Preliminary Research on TSUJIRI’s social media strategies
Our group performed content analysis on TSUJIRI Singapore’s social media accounts and posts and then compared them to that of their competitors. For the purposes of this summary, we will only compare it to the top performing competitor in the Matcha Tea Products industry and the Premium Beverages industry, namely Starbucks and Matchaya respectively. One of our group members also works in TSUJIRI and has provided her own observations as well as conducted informal interviews with the crew members. It was found that the existing strategies are lacking in many aspects.
Number of active platforms
As of now, TSUJIRI Singapore only utilizes 3 media platforms – It’s own website, Facebook, and Instagram, of which, only its Facebook account is active. Considering that internet users have an average number of 5.54 social media accounts (globalwebindex, 2015), this is clearly an under-utilization of the available social media platforms. In comparison to their top competitors, Starbucks has 7 active social media accounts (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Pinterest, and its own app), and Matchaya also has 3 social media accounts (Website, Facebook, and Instagram), but they are much more active with their accounts than TSUJIRI.
TSUJIRI’s website seems devoid of any consumer interaction. It has very few high-resolution graphics (only 5 on rotation for its welcome banner and 1 low quality picture per menu item) and is also plagued with spelling errors. It was also poorly designed and not mobile-friendly. There are also inconsistencies when it comes to displaying the price for items. Only certain items have their prices revealed while the rest are hidden. Only the landing page has any form of animation, making the rest of the website seem stale and dated in comparison. It attempts to appeal to Japanese history enthusiasts with its Japanese culture theme, but only devotes two paragraphs of uninteresting text to it.
It has a live ticker linking to its Facebook account, but it is poorly designed in three aspects: 1) It is positioned at the bottom of the page, instead of at the left or right side of the page, which lowers its chance of being seen by visitors, 2) it is partially in Japanese which might create difficulty for its Singaporean consumer base, 3) the widget is not wide enough to fully showcase the graphics of the Facebook posts.
All these factors create a rather unfulfilling and somewhat frustrating experience for visitors.
TSUJIRI Singapore recently hired a new marketing manager and one of her first acts was to wipe the Instagram account clean of any old posts. This was possibly because she wanted to rebuild TSUJIRI’s image from the ground up. However, this left the account devoid of content for almost 7 weeks until she finally posted a single post on 19th September 2016. The post received less than 60 likes since it was published and it did not encourage any consumer engagement. No hashtags were used. The shot itself has poor composition, pitching a very basic green Matcha dessert against the backdrop of the yellow-green Singapore River, making it a rather unappealing photograph. The account itself only has a paltry 571 followers.
In comparison to its top competitors, Starbucks has an average of 3 Instagram posts a week receiving a wide range of 650 – 2000 likes per post and Matchaya has an average of 4 posts a week receiving a range of 450 – 900 likes each. They also have a whopping 47400 and 5340 followers respectively. Both accounts also consistently engage their followers in the comments and promotes the usage of unique hashtags. It further taps on its community by featuring fan photos. In the case of Matchaya, it has highly stylized content with hand drawn graphics superimposed on to well composed photographs as well as heavy usage of their mascots, creating a unique and inviting feel.
Out of its 3 accounts, TSUJIRI Singapore’s Facebook account has the strongest following of 5273 followers which, unfortunately, still falls short of Matchaya’s Instagram follower count. TSUJIRI averages less than one post a month, with a majority of its posts being notifications of profile and cover picture changes. The pictures uploaded are also not optimized for Facebook or web-usage, having varying resolutions and dimensions which do not fit well. Once again, it has a poor like count, declining from an average of 27 likes per post to only an average of 13 likes per post in the span of a year. The average shares per post of 2016 work out to zero, with 3 shares across all its posts of 2016. Every Facebook statistic paints a very dismal portrait of TSUJIRI’s Facebook engagement.
Matchaya’s Facebook page actually has very few followers, 1323 to be exact, and most of its posts are mirrors of its Instagram posts. But it still boasts a wider range of content, such as high quality photos and videos and promotion updates, and still commands a higher average number of likes/reactions per post as well as an average of 3 posts per week. Starbucks’ Singapore’s Facebook page is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, with over 366,000 followers, an average of 4 posts a week, which seem to be mirror posts of their Instagram account, and a higher, but greatly varying, like/reaction count for each post. In addition, to this, it has subsidiary pages for individual outlets which seem to be mirrors of the main account.
Identified issues and aims
Issue #1 – Poor brand management
Both Costa Coffee and Starbucks have groomed a unique image for themselves, making their outlets easily recognisable, even from a distance, when a potential customer spots a certain piece of furniture or catches certain colours in the corner of his eye. However, while TSUJIRI aims to deliver an authentic Japanese experience, it has performed poorly in that aspect. Its two outlets that have dine-in sections, 100AM and Clarke Quay, lack a common theme and a distinctive Japanese ambience. From its decor, to its furniture, and even to the style of its desserts, most customers would not be able to tell it was TSUJIRI at a glance were it not for the labelling on the side of each cup.
Posts do not emphasise on their long history nor does it tap on its advantage – that fact that consumers normally feel more excitement when seeing a Japanese brand on their newsfeed – to consistently post content, at least 3-5 times a week.
Our team aims to strengthen the brand image in two ways. Firstly, we will tighten TSUJIRI’s brand focus as it is currently too broad since it attempts to tap into too many markets and demographics at the same time. Secondly, once the creative direction of the brand is focused, we can then proceed to develop it and increase its depth.
Issue #2 – Inadequate social media platform usage
Its website is not mobile friendly and is poor designed. Pictures on its front page do not gel, looking mismatched and out of place. Inconsistent creation of content as well as under utilization of social media – for e.g., they only post about a promotion on the day of promotion itself with little to no follow-up.
Our team will look to boost the quality of TSUJIRI Singapore’s social media posts as well as its frequency. We aim to hit an average of 4 posts a week, while promoting consumer engagement with hashtag usage, featuring fan photos, and unique, stylized content. Their social media platforms should be transformed into one which encourages repeat usage and “shareability”. We will also conduct more research into the possible development of an app and the viability of expanding onto other social media platforms such as Twitter.
Issue #3 – Inferior promotion mechanisms
Looking at promotions and generating hype, it lacks dedicated personnel to promote or source for clients, for example corporates, in addition to cross-promotion opportunities. It also needs to standardise the size of photos so it can be shared across various platforms. There is a lack of loyalty programmes and partnerships to promote their own brand. While it does have a loyalty cards, they are given out infrequently.
Our team suggests that TSUJIRI should tap on the success of other brands and attempt cross-promotion strategies such as pop-up events. It should also utilize flash sales, which might be linked to the app, to invoke a sense of immediacy and urgency. We will also focus more on promotions aimed towards groups, such as 1-for-1 deals or discounts on larger orders, in order to grow the consumer base quickly.