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Afternoon tea – it’s quintessentially British, and always goes down well with young or old customers. After all, who could resist elegant finger sandwiches, scones smothered in jam and cream, and miniature sweet treats?
We explore how indies can upsell these items to generate extra sales and cash in on National Afternoon Tea Week.
The cream of the crop
For National Afternoon Tea Week, tempting essentials such as cream and jam are always going to be hot sellers. As Paul Hargreaves, CEO of Cotswold Fayre, explained, “No afternoon tea would be complete without clotted cream.
“We sell the most famous brand from Cornwall, Rodda’s clotted cream, which is available nationally but still sells well to our independents. Alongside that, jams from either Rogue or Hawkshead Relish. Scones are best prepared fresh in the kitchen, so we don’t sell scones, but do sell a scone mix from Wessex Mill.”
But for some indies, classic isn’t always best. Emma Mosey, co-owner of Yolk Farm and Minskip Farm Shop, told Speciality Food, “Customers love to try something a little bit different, and really trust our home-baked goodies, which they can’t find anywhere else.
“We capitalise on this for afternoon teas people might be planning at home by being innovative with our products, but also by making these prominent in the shop with displays which inspire.
“During the Jubilee celebrations, we introduced our amazing Jubilee Cupcakes, with lashings of buttercream and fresh strawberries. We also introduced Lime & Prosecco Blondies, which received rave reviews from customers. We also sell lots of our home-baked savoury items, including unique flavours of sausage rolls, as well as more traditional varieties.”
If you aren’t sold on Lime & Prosecco Blondies, Jemma Coombe, head of new product development at Daylesford Organic, argued that simply offering a wider selection that caters to different tastes is the key. “A diverse range with a varied selection will appeal to a broader range of customers. For example, offering a choice of sizes and formats will ensure you cater for all preferences.”
She continued, “Similarly, a variety of flavour profiles is a good way to engage and upsell; customers may come looking for a firm favourite such as Earl Grey but then be tempted to try a more unusual or specialist blend such as Elderflower Green or Radiance. We always support new range launches with plenty of in-store tastings.”
For Joanna Pacey, head of marketing at Crimple Food Hall, afternoon tea is a Yorkshire affair. She explained, “Our mission is to use 100% Yorkshire produce wherever possible, supporting local farms and suppliers.
“Our afternoon tea menu now features Shorthorn salt beef croquettes with cornichon and mustard mayonnaise alongside some classics such as mini raisin scones with clotted cream and Annabel’s Deliciously British strawberry conserve.”
In this way, championing local producers either in your on-site café or on your retail shelves can help to ensure you’re offering the cream of the crop and make your business a destination.
The upselling opportunity
As we all know, upselling can add crucial extra pennies to your average basket spend. Emma believes that store merchandising is essential for this. She explained, “Display to inspire your customers and give them a reason to purchase things they might not have thought of.
“Customers come to fine food retailers to find something a bit different, something homemade and something they can’t find anywhere else. But to discover these things, as retailers, we need to create eye-catching, incredible displays. Also, by placing complementary items next to our afternoon tea range, we will also benefit from impulse purchases.”
This is something Paul agreed with, adding that a great way to upsell is to “Merchandise all the afternoon tea products together (except the cream which would have to be separately displayed in the fridge). Also, do a special offer on, say, four afternoon tea products for a certain price point.”
At Daylesford, a key way of upselling afternoon tea is to make it an occasion. Jemma explained, “We have a comprehensive range of hampers available throughout the year for all sorts of occasions and our Afternoon Tea Hamper is one of the most popular throughout the seasons – it contains an indulgent spread of sweet biscuits, preserves and local honey alongside our classic English Breakfast tea caddy and ground coffee.”
For indies with an on-site kitchen or café, Paul also recommends they use this to create more sales. “An easy way fine food retailers can upsell afternoon tea products is to ensure that the products used in the kitchen for afternoon teas are flagged on the table as being available to buy and take home.
“For example, indies should ensure that the tea served clearly shows the brand and flavour and even the price for the retail pack to take home”, he explained.
This is something Crimple does in their café. “We make sure that all branded products are referenced on the menu”, Joanna explained. “For example, Stalls Salmon, Annabel’s Deliciously British Jams etc. This ensures that customers can recognise the brands on our shelves, further enhancing our support of local suppliers.
“We also currently run a £5 off promo with every receipt printed in the restaurant. This is valid for that day only in the food hall with a minimum spend of £30 and encourages cross-promotion and sales across the entire site”, Joanna added.
Whether you have an on-site café serving up afternoon teas or not, there are plenty of opportunities to cash in on National Afternoon Tea Week.