12 July 2012

Thea Caffea

Those of you who follow me on Instagram (sianicles88) will know that I visited Thea Caffea, a tea lounge that has recently opened on Low Pavement in Nottingham today.  I am an absolute tea obsessive, my love of tea rivals my love of clothes, so when an old school friend said he wanted to meet, I knew we had to go there.  Situated in Enfield Chambers, the tea lounge is set back off Low Pavement, and with the sun shining we made the most of the fleeting summery weather and sat outside.

My beautiful friend Jenny works in the kitchen creating sumptuous cakes so we felt obliged to sample some of these culinary delights.  We certainly weren’t disappointed: I tried the almond cake (picture 1) while Ben decided on the lemon meringue cake.  We left empty plates, thanks Jenny!

But on to the main attraction: the tea!  Thea Caffea is so passionate about tea; it even has its own tea directory.  After flicking through and discovering blends of tea I had never even imagined I ordered a pot of Jasmine Silver Needle (picture 2) and Ben took tea-drinking to a new level by choosing Dragon Eye Flowering Display tea (picture 3).  Our tea arrived in small dishes, accompanied by hot water in a china tea pot for me and a transparent glass pot for Ben, china cups and saucers and, of course tea strainers – no tea bags at this establishment!  Ben’s Dragon Eye tea was quite beautiful; it started as a ball of tea, which when added to the hot water blossomed into a beautiful flower!

Altogether a very elegant experience, I will definitely be returning and I highly recommend it.  To find out more, visit the Thea Caffea facebook page.

11 July 2012

Why Should Consumers Show Loyalty?

Reading in Drapers recently about a presentation of findings of their Customer Insight Report to a group of retailers, I was struck by a comment made by finance director of Allders Croydon Max Menon.  "We compete against House of Fraser and Debenhams, and sell a lot of the same product.  Customers are not very loyal, and will jump between the three shops to get the best bargains."  I wondered whether I was the only person who jumped to the conclusion: well, why shouldn't they?  If a customer is offered the same product at several different stores, why wouldn't they choose the cheapest option?

Reasons for customers to shop at a store, regardless of price, could include store atmosphere, attentive staff, loyalty schemes; services that go above and beyond the standard shopping experience.  However, these are things that seem to be sadly lacking from the average high street store.  If these factors are not present, especially in the current economic climate when consumers are scrutinising each purchase, then price is going to be the deciding factor.

Another problem I have with Menon's statement is the complaint that House of Fraser and Debenhams sell a lot of the same product.  Surely the answer to this problem should be to offer their customers new and exciting product to tempt spending.  Exclusivity has a huge appeal, and taking a risk on fresh product could result in rising sales figures.  Implementing a proactive approach must be better than complaining and sticking to the same old brands that have saturated the market.

Perhaps the recession is the wake-up call required to motivate retailers to improve their offers and start considering their customers as more than just a source of profits and sales figures.