The weekday demos last week weren’t terribly productive, in spite of an imminently approaching holiday, but I managed to sell a modest amount. However, it did seem that some people started picking up products on Saturday and Sunday, both with and without demos.
I’ve been sampling almost constantly recently, just because there’s no other way to get rid of inventory… Sampling will at least increase awareness, even if it doesn’t produce immediate results.
After May 16 or so, I’ll need to revert to a sales rather than promotion focus. Since I have a new product, I’ll be emphasizing them more than the candy, but I’ll try my best to get placement for everything.
The Matcha Latte mix from Three Tree Tea has been well-received. I’m quite happy with the customer reception so far, and sales are about what I expected. Pulling off simultaneous demos is a bit tricky, but I’m starting to get a bit of a rhythm.
The most difficult thing so far is anticipating customer traffic. The dragon beard candy needs to be brought out of my cooler just as customers approach, and that’s tricky. If I let the dragon beard candy stand at room temperature too long, the “icy” aspect of the icy-crispy texture disappears, and the experience isn’t quite as impressive.
Similarly, the green tea latte has a short lifespan, especially in small paper demo cups. As the temperature cools, the matcha oxidizes, and after 5 minutes or so, the taste can become a bit vegetal. Reheating will actually make this more pronounced. I never noticed this when I was serving the matcha latte at home, even if it was consumed over about 10 minutes. But in larger cups—especially preheated ones—the cooling process doesn’t happen as fast, I think, and perhaps proportionally less surface area is exposed to air.
So I’ve found I have to make no more than 4 fl. oz. at a time, which produces 6–8 demo servings (about 1 fl. oz. each after the milk foams up). If traffic is more slow, I make as little as 2 fl. oz. at a time. If any samples are left after 5 minutes, I now offer it to store staff or discard it. The same would be true with a coffee sample; coffee loses its best characteristics when it’s been sitting around for 5 or 10 minutes. The problem, of course, is that if I run out of samples and a customer doesn’t see the green tea, they often walk on by, and an opportunity is missed. I don’t know whether it’s better to overproduce and waste perfectly good tea, and always serve everyone instantly, or lose the occasional impatient customer. Sometimes a customer can be pulled in with the candy and held for the tea, and vice versa, though.
I found this to be less problematic with the iced version. There must be some difference in the oxidation, or maybe less shock from temperature changes.
At the end of the weekend, with inadequate sleep and some long days driving, sampling, and beyond, I felt completely exhausted. And I still didn’t sleep when I should have.