GONG CHA TEA
Where Chatime’s journey to success has been paved with innovation and adaption, fellow Taiwanese bubble-tea franchise Gong Cha Tea has followed the traditional path.
The brand arrived in Australia in 2012, establishing operations on George St in Sydney’s CBD, employing a development strategy that focused on primarily Asian demographics.
“When we first entered Australia in 2012, there was two main brands that dominated the market, Easy Way and Chatime, however, we were able to break in and by 2017, we had 48 stores nationwide,” said Gong Cha Tea executive assistant Eddy Xu.
Expansion has continued steadily for the brand, which announced nation-wide representation following the opening of Darwin location earlier this year, with the brand set to hit 60 stores by the end of 2018.
Growth has been interesting and often unexpected however, with Xu remarking some locations that were not previously thought of as key performance zones had far exceeded network expectation.
“It’s surprising, we opened a remote location in Hobart and its going crazy, absolutely blowing up in sales, which was a major surprise for me. I couldn’t imagine why Hobart would represent a strong growth market, but it’s proven to be one.”
As consumer tastes change and Australian audiences become more aware of new market trends, businesses find themselves at a crossroads; should they refocus operations on a broader audience, or continue to segment the Australian market?
Xu believes it’s the double-edged sword of food retailing. “It’s a two-way street. We were actually the first bubbletea brand in Australia to introduce soy milk because our research showed that one third of Australians are either lactose intolerant or have a preference for soy. Rather than change our product offering, we believe that initiatives like introducing soy would be a friendly approach to diversifying our audience.”
While bubble-tea has quickly become a favourite of the Caucasian market, Xu believes Gong Cha Tea’s traditional approach is the secret to the brand’s success.
“The culture is so different, as we are very traditional. That’s our differentiation in the market, we set our premises around heavily Asian culture.”
The business is a firm believer is providing franchisees with the tools for sustained success, with an extensive, in-depth training program and location selection advice.
“When we receive a franchising inquiry, we actively source the location for the candidate, based on their preferences. Following that, we review applications, go through interviews, give the franchisee a hands-on franchise business experience and help them select their site. we only approve the site if we believe the location will make money. At the end of the day, we want our franchisees to be successful.”