How Milk Tea Addiction Turned to a Sought-After Local Café in Zamboanga Peninsula (Philippines)

Written by Syed Qassim
Syed Qassim is the founder and the Content Chief Editor of Acabo CC. He mastered the art of branding, copywriting, web development and digital marketing for more than eight years. Follow him as he shares his expertise in marketing, business and design.
Published on June 15, 2021
You are reading: How Milk Tea Addiction Turned to a Sought-After Local Café in Zamboanga Peninsula (Philippines)

The Philippines is home to millions of solid cafephiles and milk tea aficionados. Among all of Southeast Asia, the Philippines ranked second of the most number of milk tea drinkers. In 2019, a survey conducted by GrabFood found out that Filipinos consume an average of five cups of milk tea in a month. GrabFood recorded a tremendous 3,000% increasing average growth of milk tea orders in that year.

According to GrabFood, what’s driving this growth is not just die-hard bubble tea fans who can’t go a week without drinking this sweet treat, but a growing bubble tea fan club in Southeast Asia. The number of bubble tea lovers on GrabFood grew by over 12,000% in 2018 – and there’s no sign of stopping!

With increasing consumer demand, how is Southeast Asia’s bubble tea supply catching up?  As of December 2018, GrabFood has close to 4,000 bubble tea outlets from a network of over 1,500 brands – a 200% growth in bubble tea outlets in Southeast Asia. This figure is crazy!

CountriesMilk Tea tea growth by percentage in 2018*
Indonesia>8500% growth from Jan 2018 to Dec 2018
Philippines>3,500% growth from June 2018 to Dec 2018
Thailand>3,000% growth from Jan 21018 to Dec 2018
Vietnam>1,500% growth from May 2018 to Dec 2018
Singapore>700% growth from May 2018 to Dec 2018
Malaysia>250% growth from May 2018 to Dec 2018
*Time period: January 2018 to December 2018, or from the time GrabFood was launched. | Source: GrabFood

Not just Philippines, Milk Tea is a global addiction

In a report published by CNN, a recent study shows that the bubble tea industry is expected to grow by almost $2 billion to a whopping $4.3 billion by 2027.

Again, bubble tea or Milk Tea orders in Southeast Asia recorded a 3,000% increase in 2018 alone, while the drink has been popping up in menus outside of Asia for quite some time as well. Some other countries like Germany, for instance, added bubble tea to its McDonald’s menu back in 2012.

How devoted are fans of the drink? Recently in Singapore, when bubble tea shops were ordered to close temporarily to contain the spread of Covid-19, anxious crowds rushed to get their last sweet fix and bid their favorite beverage a temporary farewell. (CNN, reports).

Based on figures we built a brand

On a business side, the data presented is a crazy opportunity to take advantage of. Jiving the hype of the milk tea craze in the urban folks, we believe it’s a great opportunity to bring the madness to the remote provinces – specifically Zamboanga del Norte in the Northern Mindanao.

With a total population of 1.1 million, starting a local business with such demographics is not a bad but rather a great standpoint, plus, Zamboanga del Norte has a thriving economy.

Because there are already milk tea cafes doing good business in the area, we made sure the brand that we’re going to build is something that will scrape out the hyper-provincial mindset of our target market in terms of money spending.

The challenges on building the brand

Starting out the brand, we came up across four major challenges:

  • The cafe perfect spot. It has to be not far and not inside Dipolog City, one of the densely populated cities in Zamboanga del Norte, where other milk tea businesses thrive. Because of the owners vision to bring the milktea culture to the remote areas on the peninsula, we chose Manukan, the hometown of the owner.
  • Pricing range that will standout from the competitors. In 2006, a study by National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB), found Zamboanga del Norte Province to be the Philippines’ poorest province with a poverty incidence rate of 64.6%, an increase from 47% in year 2000 statistical figures. This data is a determining factor that challenged us on pricing Teaste Me products that would suit to the economic standards of the target market.
  • The cafe theme – the Instagramable feel. Targeting the Gen Zs and the Millennials was a challenge because bringing the milk tea urban culture is quite new to our target market. Or if not new, it’s quite familiar. Meeting their demands can be a heap of a toe – interior design, product designs and packaging. All these can have a tremendous effect on the business of not very well thought at the beginning.
  • Start-up budget. Our goal was to put-up a milk tea cafe from scratch that is “socialan-but-affordable” with just a limited start-up capital.

With everything put together, TEAste Me was born.


Brief background about
the TEASte Me project

Five months ago, we created the brand #TEAsteMe – a local cafe in Mindanao. The mission is to create a local cafe brand that would stand out from the crowd. A not-so-typical “provincial cafe.”

It has to be “makamasa-but-sossy” kind of cafe. Creating the brand was a bit challenging because we don’t know if people would actually bite-in knowing that milk tea culture in the province is yet popular. Given the challenges that we’ve encountered on the first page of the business, we managed to pull the plug off.

TEAste Me is not a fancy cafe. It started with very limited capital. The owner, Maebel D. Bugahod, did not invest much in the interior designs and etc. We invested in creating the story of the brand.

We did not pay for online marketing and media buys. We create our own brand strategy that would catch people’s attention without spending anything. In just a few months, Teaste Me today has already three (3) branches and is one of the most sought-after cafes of all cafephiles in Zamboanga del Norte. And we’re so glad here at Acabo CC seeing how far Teaste Me has come.


A few samples of the social media designs we made for TEAste Me


“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

– Thomas Edison

It’s just pandemic, you’ve got business!

Starting a business is really difficult especially in this time of the pandemic. But it does not mean you don’t have to try. Use the circumstances to be the starting ground for something you are really passionate about.

Like TEAste Me, with a combined knowledge of data and passion, we were able to help the owner build something that she really cares more about than just sipping her favorite milk tea.

Speaking about data, it might sound too technical or something very unfamiliar to you but it’s a very crucial factor to always put on the table when planning out to start your own business. Data determine the flow of your business. It guides you on all the deciding factors in laying out your business development plans.

We are in the modern business world. Everything runs on data. On a scale. And it’s really important to understand how it will affect your business especially when you’re just starting out.

Are you starting out a business? Or are you struggling to focus on onboarding your business? You need help. Here at Acabo CC, we exist to help you grow your own business.


We’re more than happy to help you. Don’t hesitate to reach us. We’re just one call away.

We offer a wide range of creative services that will help you grow your business. Interested?


MORE IMPORTANT RESOURCES

LATEST FROM OUR BLOG

3 Best Lessons I’ve Learned Working from Home

3 Best Lessons I’ve Learned Working from Home

My odd coffee routine changes the way I see life. A work-from-home coffee journal that makes me realize life’s biggest wonders. Working from home gives a lot of advantages to almost every employed individual around. It doesn’t just give a luxury of time for yourself...

More from our blog…

0 Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 3 Best Lessons I've Learned Working from Home — Acabo CC - […] Read more about this story: How Milk Tea Addiction Turned to a Sought-After Local Café in the Northern Mindanao…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: