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How trend prediction brewed up Matcha for Unilever

Their Challenge

• Like the craft beer and baking categories, tea is having a revolution with customers tapping into different benefits, flavours and varieties fuelled by social media. But the category is changing faster than brands can keep up with.
• With traditional variants slowing, Unilever’s Lipton brand wanted to inform new product innovations and stimulate growth within the Ice Tea category. They turned to Black Swan and Social data to achieve this.

Our Approach

• We ingested 36m high-quality tea conversations from social media and using NLP and AI we analysed every trend being talked about, to identify what’s a short-term fad and sustainable trend.
• The most interesting emerging trends for Innovation were prioritized and ranked with a Trend Prediction Value (TPV) by their predicted growth potential (not just size or growth).

The Results

• We identified that the Matcha conversation was evolving from an exotic oriental ingredient to one with perceived mainstream health and wellness benefits.
• Matcha had a particularly high ranking TPV, meaning it was an ingredient forecast to grow rapidly in social conversation.

The Impact

• Lipton used our insight to fast-track the launch of a ready-to-drink Matcha Green Tea variant which became their leading Iced Tea variant.
• A year after our recommendations our prediction accuracy was proven:
– Matcha products had added £11m in incremental category value
– Social conversations about Matcha had increased by 118%