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. Its rich history dates back to 1860. Originally established in Uji, Kyoto, Japan by founder Riemon Tsuji, it helped advance the tea industry and marketed itself on its authenticity, 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 a result of poor sales, TSUJIRI has been forced to relocate its 313 Somerset branch to Centrepoint, an area with lower rental costs, but also much lower foot traffic. As such, our paper seeks to identify possible ways to improve TSUJIRI Singapore’s social media presence, raise industry awareness, and raise brand awareness, and translate these efforts into sales.
We identified millennials as TSUJIRI’s target audience (age 18-34), mainly because TSUJIRI’s stores are located around the CBD area, populated mainly with working adults on the weekdays.
TSUJIRI also attempts to market itself to Japanophiles, tapping on its ties to Japanese culture and history.
As with most Japanese cuisine, TSUJIRI also prides itself on the visual appeal and presentation of its products. This instantly makes many of their products “Instagram-worthy” and makes it easily marketable on various social media platforms.
Lastly, while other TSUJIRI outlets around the globe have marketed matcha as a superfood or health food, TSUJIRI Singapore has yet to do that. Coupled with the increasing number of health-concerned citizens in Singapore, this might prove to be a market worth tapping on.
Issue #1 – Poor Brand Awareness
Even though TSUJIRI outperforms its local competitors when it comes to number of stores and strategic placement of stores, its lack of marketing strategies (both online and offline) and non-existent social media presence has resulted in poor brand awareness, barely appearing on anyone’s radar. TSUJIRI cannot survive if it continues to rank low on the awareness scale, since it can only rely on a small handful of loyal customers and a walk-in crowd.
Issue #2 – Poor Industry Awareness and Knowledge
Over the course of our research, we found that although there is a perceived matcha craze in Singapore and online search trends for matcha have been slowly climbing upwards, a majority of Singaporeans have not actually visited a dedicated matcha establishment such as TSUJIRI or Matchaya. In addition to this, we found that there was a lot of misinformation about matcha, with some thinking that it is limited to green tea or an ice-cream flavour.
Even if there is a growth in brand awareness, any marketing efforts meet a roadblock since the population is not familiar with the concept of matcha. As such, industry awareness is a major problem as well, but also presents an opportunity for TSUJIRI to establish itself as the main matcha ambassador in Singapore.
Issue #3 – Ineffective consumer engagement on social media platforms
Despite being around for 4 years, TSUJIRI has a lower following and engagement rate as compared to its competitors. Maccha House also started in 2012, but it has twice the number of fans and the highest engagement rate among all three. Matchaya on the other hand, was only established last year, however it has quickly gained a devoted following that dwarfs that of TSUJIRI.
To maintain a devoted clientele, regular interaction with clients is indispensable, especially if a brand is to survive in the long run. Additionally, research has shown that fan engagement has a positive effect on enhancing brand awareness, word of
mouth publicity and purchasing intentions.
Objective #1: Raise Industry Awareness
As stated previously, with the current state of the matcha industry, any promotion
mechanisms or attempts at raising brand awareness would be severely limited. There are also many misconceptions about matcha products which could further impede social media strategies. As such, our first objective is to raise awareness of the matcha industry and to adequately inform our target audience of the product.
Objective #2 :Establish TSUJIRI as the main matcha ambassador of Singapore
As we raise awareness of matcha, TSUJIRI can be positioned to be the main matcha
ambassador of Singapore. This will allow TSUJIRI to reap any positive benefits associated with matcha products and it will give it an advantage over the competition. Even though the matcha industry has been in Singapore for a long time, no other matcha establishment has yet attempted to be the ambassador of matcha, giving us the first-mover advantage in this area.
Objective #3: Increase consumer base through social media engagement
After establishing a strong online presence, we seek to translate that into sales through various means of social media engagement with the consumer base and sustaining growth in both sales and followers.
Keeping in line with the TSUJIRI global franchise, our strategies will continue to advocate TSUJIRI’s brand values of authenticity, richness of matcha products, freshness of ingredients, and strong ties to Japanese culture.
We will also not be restricting the product to Japanophiles or the foodie crowd, but instead, we intend to increase the perception of its accessibility to a wider audience, pronouncing that matcha products are for everyone. This allows us to have a wider consumer base which is necessary in the initial stages of raising industry awareness and brand establishment. It will also increase the reach of our strategies.
Social Media Strategy
We propose a 3-phase strategy to be carried out over the course of 10 months. It will utilise the existing 3 platforms: Website, Facebook, and Instagram. Each phase will tap on the success of its precedent through linking elements in order to multiply its reach and effectiveness.
Phase 1: Setup Phase
Phase 1 seeks to tackle TSUJIRI’s poor social media infrastructure and provide a wide foundation for our following strategies. It aims to increase product recognition and identification, create a large bank of quality content for sustained release across social media platforms, and to create a wide fan base and increase TSUJIRI’s following. This phase will last 2 months.
There is a need to build a brand story and to get people excited about Matcha. We intend to create a depository of photos with curated descriptions to sustain TSUJIRI for a year for bi-weekly release. In addition to this, we have designed a list of hashtags to be tagged onto every post made by TSUJIRI in order to increase its reach. The list consists of both hashtags unique to TSUJIRI and we aim to increase their visibility and popularity by also tagging posts with more developed and related hashtags with a decent sized following. We will also look to design and fabricate a mobile matcha machine to be used in phase 2 and to allow TSUJIRI to conduct pop-up events.
We will create 3 videos for TSUJIRI Singapore with the aim of building a brand story using quality and engaging content while increasing brand and industry awareness. It utilises advertisement, educational, and contest elements and will be published across all 3 platforms.
The first video is a basic “Watch This Space” video, teasing the offline event which will be held in phase two. The video and the event will be hosted by local celebrity Michelle Chia and also feature 8 social media personalities, teasing their appearance at the event. Michelle Chia will narrate the video, informing viewers of the attractive prizes, the food, and the attendance of the social media personalities. Then she will instruct viewers to stay tuned to TSUJIRI’s social media accounts for contest details. Half the personalities are dedicated food bloggers, the other half are general lifestyle and event bloggers. This allows us to appeal to a larger audience instead of restricting ourselves to only the discerning foodie crowd.
Videos 2 and 3 introduce the contest and educational elements. To enter the contest, contestants must like and share the video on Facebook. They must also comment on the original video with the correct answer to the question found in the video, give a witty response about why they want to attend the event, and they must tag a friend that they want to bring along to the event. There will be 5 winners per video. We chose this route to allow us to tap not only on current followers of TSUJIRI, but to expand our reach the friends of fans as well as the fans of social media personalities across various fields. Video 2 aims to raise industry and product awareness by speaking about “O-Matcha”, TSUJIRI’s brand of matcha products, while video 3 will explain the history of TSUJIRI and TSUJIRI’s brand values to link matcha products to the TSUJIRI brand and presence in Singapore.
Phase 2: Main Event: “O My Matcha”
Riding on the hype and following established in phase 1, phase 2 aims to sustain the awareness and hype about TSUJIRI by creating brand ambassadors within the community, and eventually translate the new publicity into sales.
The “O My Matcha!” event will be held on a Friday at 7pm. The venue will be an event space at 100AM, Tanjong Pagar, which is in the same mall as a TSUJIRI outlet. The location places us near multiple Japanese F&B tenants and with the timing, we can capture both the after-dinner crowd as well as the Japanese cuisine diners.
The event will last approximately 2.5 hours and will be filmed and livestreamed on Facebook with occasional updates on Instagram. The general event flow is that the audience will have a freestyle explanation and Q&A session of 7 menu items. The creation of each item will be demonstrated by a professional and served to the crowd. Attendees will also be given the opportunity to recreate these dishes themselves, reinforcing the expertise and professionalism needed to craft each item, increasing the perceived prestige of TSUJIRI products. The session will end off with a photo-session and distribution of gift baskets (consisting of TSUJIRI take-home products and snacks, bento boxes, and a lifetime discount card applying to all TSUJIRI products) to the attendants. Passers-by and onlookers will be given flyers which also act as coupons, providing discounts and driving foot traffic towards the nearby TSUJIRI branch. The Instagram and Facebook accounts will be monitored for the entirety of the event, with staff responding to queries and comments in real time.
Footage of the event will be curated into 2 types of videos. The first video is a thank-you video, lasting approximately 2 minutes and will screen highlights of the event, ending off with a short thank-you message to all attendants and TSUJIRI fans. This video will be posted across all 3 accounts within a week of the event and will be re-shared and reposted on occasion. The second type of videos are 45-second highlight videos. Each video will be based on an item prepared during the “O My Matcha!” event, will provide a short background on the dish and, a time lapse of its preparation, along with the attendants’ attempts at recreating the dish. These videos will be released on a monthly basis in phase 3 and will tie in with promotional events.
Phase 2 thus increases the perceived prestige and authenticity of TSUJIRI products while also increasing their perceived accessibility. With the educational and informational elements in both Phase 1 and Phase 2, it also interweaves TSUJIRI’s brand and matcha products intricately, establishing TSUJIRI as the industry ambassador in Singapore. It also provides us with a content source to be used over the course of the next 7 months.
Phase 3: Themed Sales and Promotions
The final phase will last for 7 months and builds upon the success of the previous phase, growing and directing the community that will rally around TSUJIRI. It aims to sustain the hype generated in phases 1 and 2 while translating that hype into sales, promoting user-generated content through themed contests and weekly features of fan posts, and it will also release the curated Instagram posts created in Phase 1 on a weekly basis (which now have increased effectiveness due to the larger and more active fan base built in the preceding phases), and will be featured across all 3 platforms.
Each month will have a theme, each relating to an item that was created during the “O My Matcha!” event. A week before the month starts, all 3 accounts will tease the theme of the month with the corresponding previously curated 45-second highlight video. For the entire month, there will be a discount on that themed item with the occasional flash sale with either discounts or 1-for-1 sales. There will be weekly features of customer posts of the item on the Facebook and Instagram accounts, with a post notifying the customer that he or she has won a gift basket consisting of TSUJIRI take-home products. At the end of the month, pictures of all 4 or 5 winners redeeming their gift basket at a TSUJIRI outlet will be added onto the next month’s teaser video to further generate hype. In addition to all this, the mobile matcha machine from preceding phases will now be used for pop-up events.
This strategy allows us to turn our fan base into an active community, turning them into active brand ambassadors and spreading TSUJIRI’s brand through word-of-mouth recommendations. Our themed promotions also lower the barriers to entry of our competitions, increasing the chances of our strategies and competition elements being effective. The community and themed month strategies will also allow TSUJIRI to maintain the event hype generated in phase 2 long after it has ended.
Our proposed strategies are ultimately aimed at raising sales and profit through the use of social media to raise brand and industry awareness with promotion mechanisms to translate the increased publicity into sales. Each strategy has a linking element to allow us to multiply the effectiveness of each strategy as time goes on, leading to a sustainable growth in sales and consumer base. Though this does require a large investment, we believe that by tapping on TSUJIRI’s innate strengths and creating a sustainable growth engine in the form of an active community, the costs will be justified and the strategies will prove profitable for TSUJIRI Singapore, whilst setting a strong foundation for any other campaigns or strategies after our strategy has ended.