After over 10 years in the Australian market, franchise Chatime has carved out an impressive reputation as the nation’s largest Bubble-tea brand. With an emphasis on metropolitan areas, the Taiwanese franchise has translated a strong local history of iced-tea success into a booming global network.
The brand is in the midst of opening its 100th Australian location, with a goal of having 110 Chatime sites up and trading by Christmas.
Chatime entered the Australian market at a time when bubble-tea was unheard of to the Caucasian demographic, with Chatime general manager Carlos Antonius suggesting the brand’s positioning and culturally diverse focus has been critical to Chatime’s prolonged success.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve really worked on repositioning our offering, really giving the brand a much wider mainstream appeal, rather than just targeting the Asian demographic,” Antonius said.
“We really tried to give a western appeal without westernising the brand. That’s been a real culture piece, and there’s been a lot of initiatives implemented both internally and externally to help drive that repositioning, which has been successful to date.”
While getting on at the ground floor is often an opportunity to develop brand loyalty early, it also presents the challenge of consistent new market competition. The last five years have seen a range of local and international bubble-tea franchises expand into Australia, and while Antonius admits there are sector challenges, a growing industry is always a good thing.
“We welcome new players, by having more competitors in the sector, it grows the general awareness of bubble-tea as a concept. The challenge for us is that whilst we are the size that we are, and we are still nimble an agile as a company, a lot of other entrants that are setting up in the region have a lower cost of entry. There are challenges in that, but what we’re really focused on is how we continue to innovate our business.”
Innovation and adaption have been critical to Chatime’s operations, with new initiatives proving to be key drivers for success. The brand has achieved double digit like-for-like growth for three years in a row, and has its sights set firmly on continued growth.
“Our target that we set to achieve is 200 stores by 2021, and we’re on track to achieve that, and we still have a significant number of metro locations in major cities. What is critical is for us to continue to reduce our cost of entry, so that we can get quicker return on investment for our investors and continue to grow the brand.”
Chatime has put emphasis into digital innovation as well, with the launch of the brand’s intuitive loyalty app, which presents consumers with the ability to place an order and be rewarded without the need for human interaction.
Antonius suggests digital initiatives like this are critical to channelling the brand’s target demographic of young, technological savvy conumers.
“We implemented a series of significant digital initiatives, our loyalty app is now live, and we really value innovation, so how can we remain relevant? It’s about constantly evolving the brand and changing the perception of what bubbletea really is.”