Saturday, November 24, 2018

2018 Black Friday/ Cyber Monday Puerh: Vendors Stepped it Up!

Although I am torn about the commercialization of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I find it most amusing to watch the marketing machines of our dear puerh vendors in overdrive.  In the West we are, of course, buying tea but I think a lot of what we buy into is actually the marketing.  Over the course of this sale, we get to see their marketing at its finest and it really does speak to each vendor’s brand and the core of how they present themselves- their brand identity.

Like last year, there were some vendors that didn’t have any markdowns at all on Black Friday/ Cyber Monday.  I think these are the “take it or leave it” or “our fair price is just that” type of matter of fact vendors.  I really find this refreshing in this day and age.  Last year, I chose to go down this route with my only Black Friday puerh purchase from Teamasters. For those looking to avoid the marketing hype and mind games of Black Friday, look no further than Teamasters, Bitterleaf Teas, and Chawangshop to name a few.

Last year, I stated that the Essence of Tea’s “20% Free Tea Sale” was probably the best deal of them all.  This year they are trying to emulate greatness by offering it again.  This time they put a few restrictions on it by restricting the age of tea you can select for free.  Last year you could select any tea as your free tea but this year you can only select 2008-2018 years.  This is totally understandable because they have listed a bunch of very expensive older teas from the 80s and 90s and other antique teas that they probably don’t want to dispense 1g of.  So this makes sense to me.  The Essence of Tea vibe is “you support our business, we would like to give something back to you”.  I resonate with the message in this sale.  With so much old tea on the menu these days, it would be cool to see a future Black Friday sale with some kind of giveaway/ promotion/ draw with some really rare old stuff though… that would be interesting and work with their marketing, I think.

The most interesting and arguably the most aggressive marketing is the sale at white2tea.  Last year, I think I overly criticized their Black Friday sale.  To be fair it was a little weak on actual deals.  It was mainly just a release day of new cakes with free shipping. I was especially harsh about the criticism of the limited 100 cake run of the $15.00 2017 Snoozefest.  This cake was a response to common criticism of white2tea. Over the last year, with no new sheng puerh prices anywhere close to being as cheap, I now see this promotion a bit differently. 

I think it was a bit of a surprise to everyone that Paul of white2tea released a limited 100 200g cakes of the $15.00 2018 Snoozefest this year.  This lightening sale that almost crashed the website and left the site moving at a snail’s pace for hours and hours (this again).  It sold out in a few hours.  The 2018 wrapper contains the same wording as the 2017 with new words like “Stoked” and “W2t reppin” that conjure up positive excitement for this surprise limited release.

They also used the sale to release a 50 cake limited run of 2018 Tunji for $89 that sold out Friday morning and a bunch of other not as limited, non-sheng puerh cakes that have been teased on social media for weeks now.  Besides this, they offered free shipping when you spent $20.00 or more, a free tote for the first 50 people who spent $200 or more, and $500.00 or more got a free December Tea Club membership.  Overall, not that much discount but a lot of hype- an improvement on last year’s sale though.

I think that Paul uses the stage of Black Friday to respond to some of his critics.  This year, I feel that he redeemed himself a little and is more on point with his response…

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I am not a fan of Xiao (small) bings of puerh and have criticized white2tea for perpetuating the popularity of this size of puerh.  I have also stated and hinted a few times that one of the Western puerh vendors has to press a Qing (Large) bing to make it right.  Of course, leave it to white2tea to respond to this criticism in dramatic fashion… I love this…

As a response white2tea is putting all orders during Black Friday and Cyber Mondy into a draw for an obscenely large, one of a kind 3KG shu puerh Qing bing … Paul is now, officially my hero!  The neifi cleverly states “pressed in 2018 by the corporate hellspawn :)”.  This phrase is in response to the increased demonization of puerh vendors that we have seen over the past few years.  Paul partly addressed this criticism rather well on his blog post here a few months back.  Also there has been others like James of TeaDB to speak out on this issue as well.
The neifi continues to state “This tea my not be good but there sure is a fucking lot of it.”  This comment is a response to the criticism mentioned above about the xiaobinging of the puerh industry.  It is a sarcastic statement that basically makes the argument that white2tea makes tea that is very good but in a smaller size- a statement about quality over quantity.  Also, apparently, since he has only made one of these and has not actually tired it, it has some blunt truth to it- he won’t get to taste it before sending it off to that lucky person.  I’ve stated on my blog before if anyone will press a Qing bing, I will put my wallet behind this endeavor.

My choice for best sale Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sale this year is at Yunnan Sourcing.  It is big, bold, and simple- 15% off everything!!!! And do they ever have a lot of everything.  Easily you can find something in their large selection.  I had a feeling Scott might up the ante last week, and he did.  What could beat that?  It speaks to Yunnan Sourcing’s big presence in the Western puerh scene, a very big sale.  The best sale for sure!
I also got to tip my hat to those smaller vendors that probably have less wiggle room in the profits to offer big cuts this weekend but still offered something fun as an incentive.  Crimson Lotus is offering 10% off everything- that is pretty significant for a smaller vendor- good job.  Farmerleaf is offering cumulative/ stacking promotions of rare and small puerh productions depending on how much you spend.  Check out their website, for details on these interesting treasures they are offering. Tea Encounter is offering free, limited samples.  Teas We Like decided to release a few new cakes.  Its good fun that even these smaller vendors are offering what they can.

Overall the sales are better than last year and probably better than ever for puerh this year.  It had me purchasing from a few of these places and enjoying this spectator sport of brilliant marketing.  You lucky readers get to see me slowly and gradually sell my soul... hahahaha... Good job vendors!

Hopefully you got the deal you were looking for or at least enjoyed the marketing mayhem…  if not, all these sales are still running for another few days…


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