A case study for successful innovation.

The Sound recently had the opportunity to help develop a modern innovation for a centuries old and beloved British icon, Twinings tea. A partnership resulting in the most successful new drinks concepts ever tested.

Twinings has been making tea for over 300 years. And while tea might be a fundamental part of being British, we’re drinking a lot less of it. So if Twinings is going to be around for another 300 years they need innovation that extends into new spaces, but stays deeply steeped (promise this will be the ONLY tea pun!) in its rich brand equity.

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Being an old brand and being a radical brand are not mutually exclusive! And we’ve seen just that with the introduction of the Cold In’Fuse range of cold water infusions. This new idea opened a whole new category for the business, helping people stay hydrated by making water tastier and more interesting.

But this was just a glimpse into what was seen as a huge scope for more innovation in the ‘hydration’ space – starting with a product for children… often the wiliest of water rejectors!

While it seemed like a logical extension of Cold In’Fuse, the ‘kids’ idea was little more than that; an idea. And having never previously launched a product for kids, it was all the more important that the concept was grounded in real needs. And this is where The Sound came in. We needed to:

  • Work backwards from the big idea to understand the real-life hydration problems it could address.
  • Understand how it could solve these problems better than the existing solutions – and to do so in a way that felt credible to parents and appealing to kids.
  • Put flesh on the bones of the idea, to generate a proposition that really connected with people
  • Play to the strengths of a brand that was known for tea and had never, in over 300 years of existence, launched a product for children.

And it needed to happen fast.

Photo by FreePik


We needed a market-ready concept less than two weeks from the start of fieldwork.

We needed the help of the real experts: parents. They used our mobile ethnography tool, The Sound Wave, to bring to life the Jobs-To-Be-Done of kids’ beverages, using photos and text explanations of their real life day-to-day scenarios and struggles involving water bottles, straws, juices and junk  – enabling us to see what really happens and the context around it.

This diary of daily affairs revealed the importance of hydration in keeping kids healthy and focused – especially at school. The one place where parents aren’t present and persistent and kids don’t always follow the script.

We learned that too often their water bottles come home half full.

Photo by FreePik


Parents need solutions to this never-ending headache, so some add flavour to make water more interesting, but this means adding sugar or artificial ingredients. Precisely the stuff of guilt – and judgement. It’s a tough compromise.

So we asked the same parents to join us for a workshop to help us better understand the issues – and find better solutions.

With the parents working alongside the marketers and innovators we were able to explore new concepts and how well they connected to the problems they had identified battling in their daily lives.

We optimised the Kids In’Fuse concept, focusing on how it would deliver the desired benefit more successfully than existing solutions. This meant adding the key product features, selecting relevant reasons-to-believe and exploring elements such as flavour, colour and language.

We saw that Kids In’Fuse was able to solve the problem without the downsides.

What’s more, the Twinings brand was really trusted and had serious credentials in creating bags of naturalness for our water – hot or cold. At the end of the workshop we huddled quickly with the Twinings team to finesse the concept ahead of quant testing.

The concept achieved BASES scores that were in the top 5% for all drinks concepts ever tested globally by Nielsen.

From there on, our insights influenced every stage of the product’s development: pack, claims, flavour profile, health claims, and even an accompanying bottle which was designed to remind kids to keep drinking.

The product is now on shelves and on track to be one of Twinings’ most successful ever launches.

This approach plugged real day-to-day tensions into concept creation in a way that is powerful, collaborative, cost effective, and ultimately commercially successful.


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