Milk tea, bubble tea, pearl milk tea, boba milk tea, or whatever you may call it likely refers to the same beverage that contains some combination of milk and tea.
Different varieties of products sold in the market differ in the preparation method and types of ingredients, such as sugar, almond, tapioca pearls, and honey.
Origins and history
Bubble tea was first introduced in Taichung, Taiwan, in the 1980s by a creator experimenting with cold milk tea by adding fruit, syrup, candied yams, and tapioca bubbles. Variations also include grass jelly, aloe vera, or red bean.
It is also characterized by an oversized straw intended to fit the tapioca balls, commonly called pearl in pearl milk tea.
Most shops sell green or black tea with milk and sweetener added. There’s also a coffee concoction for those not keen on tea, while the lactose-intolerant can try a milk-free variant.
Growth in milk tea popularity
Milk tea has gained immense popularity in recent years and has become an important part of the beverage culture in the Philippines. It has become a significant part of popular culture, especially among the younger generation, and is often associated with social events, gatherings, and hangouts with friends.
Milk tea also has health benefits, such as improving digestion, reducing stress, and providing antioxidants, making it a preferred beverage for many people.
Furthermore, milk tea’s versatility is a big draw, as it can be customized according to personal preferences, allowing for a wide variety of options to suit different tastes. The popularity of milk tea has also created a thriving industry, providing employment opportunities and contributing to the economy. Many entrepreneurs have started their own milk tea businesses, which have become successful and profitable.
The milk tea industry in the Philippines
The milk tea industry in the Philippines has experienced tremendous growth and popularity in recent years. It is a thriving market driven by the increasing demand for milk tea as a beverage of choice among Filipinos, especially the younger generation.
Many local and international brands have entered the market, making it highly competitive. The industry is also characterized by various flavors and toppings, allowing customers to customize their drinks to suit their preferences.
The milk tea industry has also created a significant economic impact, providing employment opportunities and contributing to the local economy. In addition, the industry has adopted various strategies to adapt to changing consumer preferences and trends, such as the increasing demand for healthier drink options.
Overview of milk tea consumers
Milk tea consumers in the Philippines are diverse, with a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles. However, certain demographic groups are more likely to consume milk tea than others.
The younger generation, particularly those in their teens and twenties, are among the most significant consumers of milk tea. They are more likely to be adventurous in trying new flavors and experimenting with various drink combinations. This age group also often associates milk tea with social events and gatherings with friends, making it a popular choice for hangouts and study sessions.
In addition to the younger generation, working professionals and students are significant milk tea consumers. They often use milk tea as a pick-me-up or a refreshing drink during their busy day.
Milk tea consumers are also health-conscious, opting for less sugar or sugar-free options. They also prefer milk tea with healthier toppings like fruits instead of sugary boba pearls.
Popular milk tea brands
Many popular milk tea brands in the Philippines cater to customers’ diverse tastes and preferences.
Originally from Taiwan, Chatime is a popular milk tea brand in the Philippines, known for its wide variety of flavors and toppings.
Also from Taiwan, Gong Cha is another popular milk tea brand in the Philippines, offering a diverse menu of drinks and toppings.
A Chinese brand, Happy Lemon is famous for its cheese-topped drinks and unique combinations of flavors.
A homegrown brand, Coco has become one of the most popular milk tea brands in the Philippines, known for its signature drink, the “Brown Sugar Milk Tea.”
Macao Imperial Tea
Macao Imperial Tea, a Hong Kong-based brand, has gained popularity in the Philippines for its unique tea blends and flavors.
A Taiwanese brand, Tiger Sugar is known for its famous “Brown Sugar Boba Milk” drink, which has gained a cult following among milk tea enthusiasts.
Types of milk tea business models
These are physical stores dedicated solely to selling milk tea and related products. They may be located in high-traffic areas, malls, or commercial spaces, offering seating areas for customers to enjoy their drinks.
- Provides a physical space for customers to visit and enjoy their drinks
- Can build a loyal customer base through repeat visits and word-of-mouth recommendations
- Can offer a wider selection of drinks and toppings
- Can create a unique atmosphere and branding that sets it apart from competitors
- Requires a larger investment in rent, equipment, and staffing
- May have higher overhead costs, such as electricity and water bills
- May require more marketing and promotion to attract customers
- Can be impacted by foot traffic and location, especially during low seasons or unexpected events
Kiosks are smaller versions of standalone shops that require less space and investment. They are often located in busy areas like malls or train stations and may offer limited drinks and toppings.
- Requires less space and investment than standalone shops
- Can be located in high-traffic areas, increasing visibility and sales
- Can provide a quick and convenient option for customers on-the-go
- Can offer a more focused selection of drinks and toppings, reducing operational costs and complexity
- Limited space and capacity for customers to sit and enjoy their drinks
- May be affected by weather and outdoor conditions, especially if located outside
- May require more frequent restocking and maintenance due to limited storage space
- Can face competition from other kiosks and nearby shops
Franchise models allow entrepreneurs to start their own milk tea business using an established brand name and business model. This can help with brand recognition, marketing, and operational support, but it also requires adhering to certain standards and paying fees to the franchisor.
- Provides an established brand name and business model, reducing the risk of failure
- Can receive support and training from the franchisor, such as marketing, operations, and supply chain management
- Can benefit from existing customer base and brand recognition
- Can gain access to exclusive products, supplies, and equipment
- Requires payment of fees to the franchisor, reducing profitability
- May have less freedom and flexibility to make business decisions and changes
- May have to follow strict standards and guidelines set by the franchisor
- May face competition from other franchisees within the same brand
This model focuses on delivery services for customers who prefer to deliver their milk tea to their homes or offices. Delivery-only businesses can be operated from a central kitchen and may not require a physical storefront.
- Can reach a wider audience and customer base, especially those who prefer to have their drinks delivered
- Can reduce costs of rent and physical storefront
- Can operate from a central kitchen, reducing the need for multiple locations
- Can be more flexible in terms of operating hours and locations
- May face more competition from other delivery services
- May require investment in specialized equipment and packaging for delivery
- May have less opportunities for customer interaction and feedback
- May have longer delivery times and higher delivery fees, impacting customer satisfaction
Pop-up shops are temporary stores that can be set up in events, festivals, or other high-traffic areas. This can help entrepreneurs test the market and gain exposure without the high investment of a permanent storefront.
- Can test the market and gain exposure without the high investment of a permanent storefront
- Can be more flexible in terms of location and timing
- Can create a sense of exclusivity and urgency among customers
- Can generate buzz and social media engagement through unique designs and promotions
- May require permits and approvals from event organizers and local authorities
- May have limited time to attract and retain customers
- May require higher investment in transportation, setup, and teardown costs
- May face challenges with staffing and managing logistics during events
How to choose the suitable business model for your milk tea business
You must consider several factors when choosing the right milk tea business model.
Your budget and financial resources
Consider how much money you must invest in your milk tea business. If you have limited funds, starting with a kiosk or pop-up shop may be better than a standalone shop or franchise.
Your target market
Understand your target market and their preferences. A delivery-only model may be a good fit if your target market is busy professionals who prefer delivery services. If your target market is young people who like to hang out and socialize, a standalone shop with a seating area may be more appropriate.
Consider the location and foot traffic in your area. If you are located in a busy commercial area, a standalone shop or kiosk may be a good fit. A delivery-only model or franchise may be more effective if you are located in a residential area with fewer customers passing by.
Analyze the competition in your area and consider how you can differentiate yourself. If there are many standalone shops in your area, a franchise or delivery-only model may help you stand out. If there are many delivery services, a standalone shop or kiosk may offer a more unique experience for customers.
Your goals and vision
Consider your long-term goals and vision for your milk tea business. A franchise model may be the best fit if you want to expand and franchise your business. A standalone shop or kiosk may provide more flexibility and creativity if you want to focus on a specific niche or offer unique flavors.
Steps to starting a milk tea business in the Philippines
Conduct market research
Before starting a milk tea business, it is essential to conduct market research to understand the demand for milk tea in your area, the competition, and the preferences of your target market.
Create a business plan
A business plan is essential in outlining your business goals, target market, marketing strategies, financial projections, and other important aspects of your business.
Secure necessary permits and licenses
In the Philippines, a business permit and registration with the Bureau of Internal Revenue are required to operate a business legally. You may also need to secure permits from the local health department.
Choose a location
Choose a location that is easily accessible, visible, and has high foot traffic. You may consider renting a kiosk or a small space in a commercial area or setting up a standalone shop.
Source equipment and ingredients
You will need equipment such as tea brewing machines, refrigerators, blenders, and ingredients like tea leaves, milk, sweeteners, and toppings.
Develop a menu
Develop a menu of milk tea flavors and toppings that appeal to your target market. Consider offering unique flavors and toppings that differentiate your business from competitors.
Hire staff with experience in making milk tea or train them to make milk tea to your standards.
Market your business
Use various marketing strategies such as social media, flyers, and promotions to reach your target market and build brand awareness.
Continuously evaluate and improve
Monitor the performance of your business and make adjustments as necessary to improve your operations and increase profitability.
Legal requirements and permits needed
You need to secure a Business Permit from your local government unit (LGU). The Business Permit is a document that allows you to operate your business legally.
This is a permit issued by the barangay where your business is located. This clearance confirms that your business complies with the barangay’s zoning ordinances and safety requirements.
The Office of the Mayor of your city or municipality issues the Mayor’s Permit. It certifies that your business complies with all the necessary requirements and is authorized to operate within the area.
Certificate of Registration
Register your business with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). The Certificate of Registration (COR) is issued by the BIR and serves as proof of your registration.
You need to secure a Health Permit from the local health department, which certifies that your business complies with food safety and sanitation requirements.
SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG
You are required to register your employees with the Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG).
Look for a location with high foot traffic, such as commercial areas, malls, or near schools or universities. The more people passing by your store, the higher the chances of attracting potential customers.
Choose a location that is easily accessible to your target market, whether by public transportation or private vehicles. Make sure it’s visible and easily recognizable from the main road.
Consider the number of milk tea shops already operating in the area. If there are too many competitors, it may be challenging to establish a new business. However, if no other milk tea shops are nearby, introducing your brand to a new market could be a good opportunity.
Consider the rental fees and other operating costs such as utilities, labor, and equipment. Choose a location that fits your budget and ensures that your business can be profitable.
Ensure that the location is safe and secure, with proper lighting and security measures in place to protect your customers and staff.
Space and layout
Choose a space that comfortably accommodates your equipment, furniture, and customers. Consider the store layout
, such as the flow of customers and the placement of your menu and other promotional materials.
Zoning and permits
Ensure the location complies with your local government unit’s zoning and permit requirements.
Strategies to promote your milk tea business
Social media marketing
Use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to promote your business. Share pictures and videos of your products, special deals, and promotions. Encourage your customers to tag your business in their posts and leave positive reviews.
Partner with influencers who have a significant following on social media platforms. They can help promote your products to their followers, increasing your brand awareness and reach.
Offer a loyalty program to encourage repeat customers. For example, you could offer a free drink for every ten purchases made or a discount for customers who refer their friends.
Special deals and promotions
Create special deals and promotions to attract new customers and retain existing ones. For example, you could offer a discount on your best-selling drinks during off-peak hours.
Collaborate with other local businesses, such as bakeries or restaurants, to cross-promote your products. This can help you reach new customers and expand your market.
Events and pop-up shops
Host events or pop-up shops to introduce your products to potential customers. You could participate in food fairs or organize your own events to showcase your products and engage with your target market.
Offer referral programs to encourage your customers to bring in their friends and family. For example, you could offer a free drink to both the referrer and the referred customer.
Use eye-catching and attractive signage to promote your business. Make sure your store is easily recognizable from the main road to attract passing customers.
Branding and positioning your milk tea business
Identify your unique selling proposition (USP)
Determine what sets your milk tea business apart from your competitors. It could be your unique flavors, ingredients, or customer service. Your USP will be the foundation of your branding and positioning strategy.
Develop a brand identity
Your brand identity should reflect your USP and target market. This includes your business name, logo, colors, typography, and overall visual aesthetic.
Create a brand story
Develop a narrative that tells your brand’s story, its values, and what it represents. This can help create an emotional connection with your customers.
Define your target market
Identify your target market and tailor your branding and positioning strategy to appeal to them. Consider factors such as age, gender, lifestyle, and location.
Position your brand
Position your brand in a way that differentiates it from your competitors. For example, you could position your milk tea business as a premium brand, a healthy alternative, or an affordable option.
Consistency is key
Ensure that your branding and positioning strategy is consistent across all touchpoints, including your physical store, social media, packaging, and advertising.
Engage with your customers
Build a strong relationship with your customers by engaging with them through social media, promotions, and events. This can help you build brand loyalty and advocacy.
Daily operations of a milk tea business
The daily operations of a milk tea business in the Philippines can vary depending on the size and complexity of the business. However, here are some common tasks and activities that may be involved:
Preparing and serving drinks
This includes making milk tea drinks, preparing toppings, and ensuring that drinks are served quickly and efficiently.
Keep track of inventory levels, order supplies when necessary, and monitor ingredient usage to minimize waste.
Cleaning and maintenance
Ensure the store is clean and well-maintained, including equipment and regularly sanitizing surfaces.
Handle cash transactions, prepare daily sales reports, and manage the cash register.
Supervise and manage staff, including hiring, training, and scheduling.
Interact with customers, take orders, answer questions, and address complaints.
Marketing and promotions
Develop and implement marketing strategies to attract new customers and retain existing ones.
Keep accurate records of sales, inventory, and expenses.
Ensure that the products are made according to the standard recipe and meet customer expectations.
Plan for future growth by identifying new opportunities, researching new products and markets, and developing plans to expand the business.
Staffing and management considerations
When starting a milk tea business in the Philippines, staffing and management are critical considerations.
Hire qualified and experienced staff
Look for staff with experience in the food and beverage industry and excellent customer service skills. Training may also be necessary to ensure all staff members make consistent, high-quality drinks.
Create clear job descriptions
Define each staff member’s role and responsibilities clearly so that they know what is expected of them.
Develop a training program
Develop a comprehensive training program that covers recipes, customer service, inventory management, and equipment operation.
Establish a schedule
Set up a fair work schedule to all staff members and ensure adequate coverage during peak hours.
Ensure compliance with labor laws
Ensure your business complies with all relevant labor laws, such as minimum wage, working hours, and benefits.
Maintain open communication
Encourage open communication between staff members and management to address any concerns or issues promptly.
Provide feedback and incentives
Provide regular feedback to staff members to help them improve their performance and offer incentives such as bonuses or paid time off to reward hard work and dedication.
Keep morale high
Ensure that staff morale remains high by recognizing and appreciating their efforts, providing a safe and comfortable work environment, and fostering a positive team culture.
Effective staffing and management practices are essential for running a successful milk tea business in the Philippines. By hiring qualified staff, developing a comprehensive training program, and maintaining open communication and positive team culture, a milk tea business can provide high-quality products and service, and build a loyal customer base.
Inventory management and cost control
Inventory management and cost control are essential aspects of running a successful milk tea business in the Philippines.
Regularly monitor inventory levels
Keep track of inventory levels and update your inventory list regularly. This will help you identify which items are selling quickly and which items are slow-moving.
Forecasting demand will help you plan for the right amount of inventory. By analyzing sales data, you can predict which items will be in high demand and which items you need to stock up on.
Optimize stock levels
Optimize your stock levels to reduce inventory carrying costs by ordering only what you need. Ordering too much inventory will result in wasted products and higher storage costs.
Negotiate with suppliers
Negotiate with your suppliers to get the best prices and terms. Consider bulk ordering to save on costs.
Control portion sizes
Ensure that your staff follows standardized portion sizes to minimize ingredient wastage.
Monitor and control labor costs
Labor costs can be a significant expense for any business. You can control labor costs by monitoring staff schedules and ensuring they are productive during their shifts.
Analyze cost of goods sold (COGS)
COGS is the cost of producing a product. By analyzing COGS, you can determine which products are more profitable and which ones need to be priced higher or discontinued.
Technology can help you manage inventory more efficiently. Consider using an inventory management system to track your inventory levels and generate reports.
Effective inventory management and cost control are critical for the success of a milk tea business in the Philippines. Implementing these strategies can minimize waste, control costs, and increase profitability.
Estimating start-up costs
Estimating start-up costs is crucial when starting a milk tea business in the Philippines.
You must purchase tea brewing equipment, blenders, refrigerators, and a point-of-sale system. The equipment cost will depend on the quality and quantity of the items purchased.
Ingredients and supplies
You will need to purchase ingredients such as tea, milk, sweeteners, boba, and supplies such as cups, straws, and napkins. The cost of ingredients and supplies will depend on the quantity and quality of the items purchased.
Rent and utilities
Rent for a physical location, utilities such as water, electricity, and internet, and other related expenses will also need to be considered.
Licenses and permits
You will need to obtain various licenses and permits to operate your milk tea business legally. These include business permits, sanitary permits, and health permits. The cost of obtaining these permits will vary depending on your location.
Marketing and advertising
You must allocate funds for marketing and advertising your milk tea business to attract customers. This can include creating a website, printing marketing materials, and online advertising.
You will need to pay your staff, including baristas and cashiers. The cost of staff salaries will depend on the number of staff members you hire and the pay rates you offer.
You may also need insurance to protect your business from liabilities and risks.
The total start-up costs for a milk tea business in the Philippines can vary greatly depending on the size and location of the business. However, it is important to estimate these costs accurately to ensure that you have enough capital to start and sustain your business.
Revenue projections and pricing strategies
Revenue projections and pricing strategies are crucial to a successful milk tea business in the Philippines.
Determine your target market
Identify your target market and understand their preferences, tastes, and purchasing habits. This will help you develop a pricing strategy that appeals to your target customers.
Research your competition
Analyze your competitors’ pricing strategies and understand how they price their products. Use this information to determine a competitive price point for your milk tea products.
Determine your costs
Calculate your costs of goods sold (COGS) and overhead expenses to determine your break-even point. This will help you set your pricing strategy to ensure that you are profitable.
Set your pricing strategy
Once you have determined your costs, set your pricing strategy. Some popular pricing strategies include cost-plus, value-based, and penetration pricing.
Offer specials and promotions
Consider offering promotions and specials to attract customers and increase sales. This can include discounts, loyalty programs, and free samples.
Adjust prices as needed
Monitor your sales and adjust your prices as needed to remain competitive and profitable. You may need to raise or lower prices depending on market conditions, cost changes, or customer demand.
When projecting revenue for your milk tea business, consider your location, target market, competition, and pricing strategy. Use your knowledge of your costs and pricing strategy to estimate sales volume and revenue. It is important to regularly review and adjust your pricing strategy to ensure that you are meeting your revenue goals and remaining competitive in the market.
Financial management for long-term sustainability
Financial management is essential for the long-term sustainability of a milk tea business in the Philippines.
Track and monitor your financials
Keep accurate records of your sales, expenses, and profits. Regularly review your financial statements to monitor your business’s performance and identify areas where you can cut costs or increase revenue.
Create a budget
Develop a budget that outlines your expected expenses and revenue. This will help you stay on track and avoid overspending.
Manage your cash flow
Monitor your cash flow to ensure you have enough funds to cover expenses and invest in growth opportunities. Consider implementing cash flow management strategies such as improving your inventory management or negotiating better payment terms with suppliers.
Look for opportunities to cut costs without sacrificing quality. This can include negotiating better prices with suppliers or finding more efficient ways to operate your business.
Plan for growth
Develop a growth plan that outlines your goals and strategies for expanding your business. This should include financial projections and a timeline for achieving your goals.
Seek professional advice
Consider working with a financial advisor or accountant to help you manage your finances and make informed decisions.
By implementing these financial management strategies, you can ensure the long-term sustainability of your milk tea business in the Philippines. Regularly monitor your financials, control costs, and plan for growth to maximize your profits and achieve your business goals.
Challenges faced by milk tea businesses in the Philippines
While the milk tea industry in the Philippines has experienced significant growth over the past few years, there are also challenges that milk tea businesses face.
The milk tea industry is highly competitive in the Philippines, with many established brands and new players entering the market. This makes it challenging for new businesses to establish themselves and gain market share.
Changing customer preferences
Customer preferences for milk tea flavors and variations can change quickly, making it challenging for businesses to keep up with trends and offer new products that meet customer demand.
Milk tea businesses need to manage their costs effectively to maintain profitability. This can be challenging due to rising ingredient costs, rent, and other expenses.
Milk tea businesses may experience fluctuations in demand during different seasons, making it difficult to maintain consistent revenue.
Staffing and turnover
Finding and retaining skilled employees can be challenging in the milk tea industry, where high turnover rates are typical.
Compliance with regulations
Milk tea businesses must comply with various regulations, including health and safety regulations and permits, which can be time-consuming and costly.
To overcome these challenges, milk tea businesses must remain vigilant in monitoring their costs, staying on top of customer preferences, and adapting their business models as needed. They should also focus on building a strong brand and reputation, providing excellent customer service, and maintaining a competitive edge through innovation and quality.
Future outlook in the Philippines
The future outlook for the milk tea industry in the Philippines looks promising. While the industry has already experienced significant growth in recent years, there is still plenty of room for expansion and innovation.
The popularity of milk tea continues to grow in the Philippines, with a large and growing consumer base. As more consumers adopt milk tea as their preferred beverage, the industry is likely to continue growing.
The milk tea industry constantly evolves, introducing new flavors and variations regularly. Businesses that can stay ahead of trends and offer innovative products will likely succeed.
Technology is increasingly important in the milk tea industry, with businesses using mobile ordering and payment systems, social media marketing, and other digital tools to connect with customers and streamline their operations.
As consumers become more environmentally conscious, there is increasing demand for sustainable and eco-friendly products. Milk tea businesses demonstrating their commitment to sustainability are likely to attract and retain customers.
While competition in the milk tea industry is intense, there is still room for businesses that can differentiate themselves through quality, innovation, and customer service. The most successful businesses are likely to be those that can build strong brands and loyal customer bases.
Overall, the future of the milk tea industry in the Philippines looks bright, with plenty of opportunities for growth and innovation. Businesses that can stay ahead of trends, leverage technology, and build strong customer relationships will likely be successful in the years to come.