Generation Z was born in the Internet age and seamlessly connected with the Internet information age. How will tea enthusiasts of this generation play with tea digitization? In September 2020, a tea application named Steeped was officially launched. Three German young people in their early twenties wanted to make tea more digital. They developed a tea app together, got a 6-digit Euro investment and registered a private limited company. The tea app can be downloaded for free on the official website of Steeped, the website also provides an online community supporting the app and sells several tea boxes similar to the blind boxes popular in China in recent years. Consumers can’t know the specific tea and tea sets in the box in advance. Steeped’s ingenious attempt to turn selling tea into selling tea entertainment.
In China, most middle-aged and elderly people like to brew tea with insulated cups, the two young main creators of tea app know each other because they both drink high-quality loose tea with insulated cups. Tristan Otto and Marcel Bechler didn’t know each other well when they were in the same high school. The two tea enthusiasts found each other’s tea hobbies and began to have a common language. The two often tasted tea together and gradually found that there was no suitable tea application software suitable for them to record the “feeling after tea” and have a good user experience on the market. The two young people who liked tea and technology hit it off and jointly developed the stepped tea app. Marcel has experience in designing apps since he was a student. Tristan has experience in commercial development of app company. Janek Wunderlich, the third founder, has background in app development and is also a tea lover. In fact, it is not difficult to understand why they develop tea app together.
Stepped app is a free download, English operating system with simple design and convenient operation. Users can choose the brewing guidance of different teas according to the prompts. They can also adjust the length of tea brewing according to their preference for the strong and light taste of tea. It is very practical for novice tea makers, and tea enthusiasts can also be used as a tea timer. So far, the app has been downloaded about 7000 times, and the update of the app continues. Multilingual options will be provided in the future, and the Chinese version of the app will be launched in the near future.
In the supporting online community serving app, young and middle-aged people are the main members, and there are at least 300 daily active community backbone members. I also joined the community. After several weeks of observation, it was found that new people joined almost every day, and the community activity was relatively high. Members could share their recent tea and tea sets, discuss the knowledge behind tea, mail and exchange tea among members, and of course, there are also platform sections for publishing tea box advertisements. These activities were influenced by the positive interaction between managers and community members. The tea community has well established direct contact between the company and customers to obtain feedback in time. For example, consumers prefer to know the tea products in the tea blind box before purchasing. The company decided to change its strategy and change a tea box to indicate the tea products before sale.
After the outbreak of COVID-19, people began to become more interested in online shopping. The sales volume of online tea increased, and the sales volume of Steeped tea boxes increased significantly, exceeding expectations. This also makes the team decide to develop new functions of the application, the online tea market will be released in the near future. Consumers can find tea related products provided by nearly 50 tea brands on this platform, including tea, tea sets and utensils, they can easily shop around and compare prices. With reference to the evaluation of buyers on the platform, the tea purchase experience becomes more targeted and professional. The Steeped team focuses on customer orientation. Based on the more personalized preferences of consumers, the team constantly adjusts and improves the algorithm to push accurate personalized push that meets the preferences of each customer. The initial tea market is mainly aimed at the EU market, and it can also be considered to open to a larger world market in the future. I believe that tea merchants will also be more willing to join such an online platform tea market. The platform can charge a commission according to a certain sales proportion, which is a win-win model.