Ref NoGB1752.LTC
Alt Ref NoOFR:
TitleLipton Tea Companies
DescriptionPlease note access is only permitted to open and catalogued records subject to Unilever’s closure periods.
In line with UARM's policy on confidentiality and closure periods, certain records in this collection may be closed.

Company name: Lipton Ltd
Date of Acquisition: 1972
Company Number: 56360
Related companies: Lipton (Overseas) Ltd- 458540; Lipton (India) Ltd- 581631; Lipton & Wholesale & Retail) Ltd; Lipton Soft Drinks Group (Established 1993 as specialist soft drinks arm of Foods Executive. Based in Croydon- provides expertise to Unilever's operating companies outside the US. )

In the spring of 1865 Thomas Lipton, a grocers son from Glasgow, set sail for New York intent on making his fortune in America. After working in a number of jobs, he returned home with five hundred dollars in his pocket, and big ambitions. In May 1871 he opened his first shop, Lipton's Market, at 101 Stobcross Street. He had picked up a few tips in America, and the business expanded rapidly thanks to his use of advertising, the bright façade of his shops and sales policy of providing quality produce at low prices. His use of marketing gimmicks, such as massive cheeses embedded with sovereigns, and humorous cartoons, made Lipton a household name.
In 1890, he began purchasing tea estates in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and packaged and sold the first Lipton tea. Staying true to his vision, he arranged packaging and shipping at low costs to sell his teas directly from the tea garden to the tea pot. His tea was brightly packaged in individual wrappers at a time when tea was mostly sold loose, and at 1/7d per pound was half the going rate. His advertisements used drawings of Cingalese girls and one of the famous slogans used to market the tea was `Direct from the garden to the tea pot.' He bought even more tea estates as sales took off and obtained a Royal Warrant to supply tea to Queen Victoria. In 1893, he officially established the Thomas J Lipton Co., a tea packing company with its headquarters and factory in Hoboken, New Jersey. Lipton® teas were an immediate success in the United States and the United Kingdom. In recognition of his exceptional contribution, Thomas Lipton was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1898, and became Sir Thomas Lipton at the age of forty-eight.
Within twenty years he had opened 150 shops in the UK. By 1926 he had about 600 shops.

-for further information see our Historical Information Sheet for Thomas J. Lipton.

Acquisition and Growth with Unilever

In 1927 Van den Berghs had bought a controlling interest in Lipton's expanding company. In 1946 Unilever acquired Lipton's tea in the US which was run as an independent company from Lever Bros until Unilever's full acquisition 26 years later.

The Lipton Tea Company Limited was acquired by Unilever in 1972, and with a vision for growth the company decided the focus on the export market rather than the home market. The only Lipton tea products the British consumer could buy were those designed for export but sold in specialist UK shops. From March 1982, however, five Lipton specialty teas were made available in the UK, in filter teabags and in loose packs: English Breakfast, Original Ceylon, Earl Grey, Imperial China, and Traditional Darjeeling.

In 1991 Brooke Bond Food Service launched a new range of specialty teas for caterers in the UK under the Lipton brand name. The new range consisted of Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Black China, Lemon, and Ceylon High Grown.

In March 1994, Liptonice went on sale in the UK. The UK's first carbonated iced tea product, it was launched jointly by Brooke Bond Foods, Pepsi-Cola, and Britvic Soft Drinks (Pepsi's UK franchise partner) and was aimed at 20-30 year olds looking for healthier alternative to canned soft drinks. The new product was available in both light and original varieties, and consisted of real tea and lemon juice. The launch was supported by a television advert featuring the voice of Angus Deayton. Brooke Bond Foods had launched another iced tea product, Coolbrew, in the Midlands in 1989, but this product was not launched nationally.

In 1995 Liptonice was relaunched to appeal to the younger generation. The product was reformulated and given new packaging, and a new marketing campaign was launched. The slogan used was Liptonice, Naturally Chilled.

In 2002 Lipton Ice Tea was launched nationally in the UK this year, backed by a £5 million marketing campaign. It had already been launched in test markets in Scotland and South East England. The new product was a still drink made from Lipton tea, blended with water and natural fruit flavours, and contained no preservatives. It was initially available in two flavours: Peach and Lemon. The drink was already available elsewhere globally.

In 2003 Lipton Ice Tea was supported by a £6 million marketing campaign, including a new advert for television and cinema. The advert continued to use the 'Don't knock it till you've tried it' theme first used the previous year. The advert showed a man who discovers the drink and then goes on to experiment with other things, such as a retro hairstyle and playing bingo. In this year Lipton Ice Tea launched a Mango variant, which was the second most successful Lipton Ice Tea variety in Europe, after Peach. At the start of 2004 light versions of Lipton Ice Tea were available, in Peach and Lemon flavours. Each drink contained only one calorie.

In 2007 Lipton launched a Rainforest-Alliance certified tea this year, Lipton Kericho Estate Tea, from Unilever's estate in Kenya. It was blended for the UK as a black tea. Also this year, Lipton Green Ice Tea was launched.

2008 saw the launch of Lipton's Fruit & Herbal Infusions, aimed at the affluent-young market of 25-34 year olds. There were nine teas and the range was split into four segments: fruity, herbal, fruity green teas and destination. The bags were pyramid- shaped to ensure optimum infusion. Varieties included Red Fruit, Crushed Peppermint, Alps (Mint and Eucalyptus), and Green Tea Mandarin Orange. Advertising contained the strap-line 'Lipton Infusions. Drink Gorgeous' and centered on encouraging trial of the product and building awareness of the range.

In 2009 Lipton launched a £2 million advertising campaign for its Fruit & Herbal Infusions range, with the line `Lipton Infusions. Drink Gorgeous.' In this year Britvic announced they had signed an agreement to distribute Lipton Ice Tea. Over the past year more than 6 million liters of Lipton Ice Tea was sold in the UK, and at this time the product was available in the following four flavours: Lemon, Peach, Mango, and Green Orange.

In 2010 the actor Hugh Jackman became the new face of Lipton Ice Tea. The slogan `Don't Knock it till you've tried it', was again used in advertising. Two new flavours were added to the Fruit & Herbal Infusions range: Forest Fruits and Pink Citrus flavours.

To market the Lipton Fruit & Herbal Infusions range, Unilever collaborated with the designers FrostFrench and a tea boutique was installed in FrostFrench's Islington store.

The range of Lipton teas in the UK in 2010 was as follows:
" Lipton Fruit and Herbal Infusions: Red Fruit Infusion, Warming Lemon and Ginger Infusion, Crushed Peppermint Infusion, Sunny Chamomile Infusion, Morocco Infusion, Alps Infusion, Andalucia Infusion, Green Tea with Mandarin Orange, Green Tea with Tropical Fruit.
" Lipton Ice Tea: Ice Tea with Lemon, with Peach, with Mango, Lipton Green Tea with Orange.

In 2011 the Fruit and Herbal Infusions range was expanded as two new flavours were added: Apple & Cinnamon, and Citrus & Orange Blossom.

In 2011 Lipton sponsored reality show Britain's Got Talent.
In August 2012 Unilever signed an agreement with the international tea and botanicals group Martin Bauer, to increase global production of sustainably resources tea extracts by building a new factory in Argentina. The factory, planned for completion in the first half of 2015, will be one of Unilever's most technologically advanced, bringing together Martin Bauer's expertise in plant extracts and Unilever's sustainable tea-buying expertise. All the tea extracts produced at the new facility will be Rainforest Alliance-certified, allowing Lipton to make on-pack claims for its iced tea products.
In 2012 Unilever celebrated 20 years of successful partnership with PepsiCo. In this year the Pepsi Lipton Partnership (PLP) had retail sales of around €2.5 a year. Thanks to the partnership, in 2012 Unilever lead the €8 billion North American ready-to-drink (RTD) tea market with a portfolio that includes two $1 billion brands: Lipton and Brisk.

In 2013 Lipton joined with Instagram to launch its first ever global photo challenge, encouraging people all around the world to share their 'uplifting moments'. The #Liptagram competition Lipton aimed to attract the younger consumers with the chance to win a trip to Lipton Tea Plantations.

In January 2014 Lipton used the Oscars as the setting to launch a new Global Campaign, for the Unified Unilever Brand. Kermit the frog was the pitchman for Unilever's 'Be More Tea' idea. The Ice Tea campaign is part of a joint venture with PepsiCo. The launch included four weeks of Facebook and Twitter campaigns using the tagline #BEMORETEA.

In 2015 Lipton remains a Global brand and the world's leading tea brand, sold in more than 150 countries. Products include a broad variety of tea- black, green, white and flavored, herbal infusions, bottles Ice Tea, and ice tea mixes. Sustainability is a big priority for the brand- Lipton owns a Rainforest Alliance Certified™ tea estate in Kericho, Kenya and has made a commitment to world-wide sustainability for Lipton Tea in tea bags by 2015.

-Lipton in France

By 2004 Lipton Ice Tea had been in France for ten years. Lipton in France moved into the water market by launching Lipton Aquae, a range of waters enriched with tea, plants and fruit. It was available in two varieties: Lipton Aquae Balance comprised green tea and melon, while Lipton Aquae Vital blended black tea plus guarana and exotic fruits. The launch was supported with a massive television and press campaign, starting in April.

-Lipton in Thailand

Unilever Thai Trading launched Lipton Wave green tea in 2003, in line
with rapid growth in the popularity of green tea among the country's more
health-conscious consumers.

With a 50% market share, Unilever already dominated Thailand's
ready-to-drink tea market and Lipton Wave was expected to lift Lipton's market share to 60%. Lipton Wave tea, with jasmine among its ingredients, benefited from 80 million (Euros1.6 million) marketing budget and a nationwide distribution network of more than 200,000 retail outlets. The promotional campaign included a launch party targeting young adults, with live music and artistic activities by celebrities in various fields, including singer Leo Put and award-winning film-maker Pramote Sangsorn.

-Lipton in the U.S

In 1994 Lipton Iced Tea in the US was a winner at the Unilever Foods Innovation Awards. In April 1992, the Lipton ready-to-drink iced tea business had been relaunched following the formation of a Pepsi-Lipton Tea Partnership, and the brand had since met with much success in North America. In the U.S. at this time there were three distinct Lipton ice tea products: Lipton Brisk, Lipton Fountain, and Lipton Original. This last product was the only nationally distributed all-natural ready-to-drink iced tea brewed from tea leaves.

In 2000, Lipton Cold Brew was launched nationally in the U.S. This iced tea bag had been previously launched regionally in the southern states.

-Lipton in China

In 2003 Unilever launched Lipton green and jasmine tea bags in China, the world's biggest market. The Lipton brand already held 50% of the Chinese tea bag market with black tea bags, which it had been selling since 1992. Lipton tea was also available in bottles, ready for drinking.

In 2012 the Pepsi Lipton Partnership signed an exclusive partnership agreement with Ting Yi, the biggest beverage company in China.


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