NatchBytes: How Giveaways Are Helping Cusa Tea Grow Awareness & Sales

Instant morning pick-me-up, afternoon escape & cultural experience


Jim Lamancusa spent several years in Asia after graduating from college and fell in love with tea. 15 years after returning to the States, he was on a backpacking trip with friends and noticed they were all drinking instant coffee. He wasn’t a coffee drinker, and wondered why an instant tea free of sugar, preservatives or junk ingredients hadn’t been created. It was on that trip in 2017 that his idea for Cusa Tea was hatched!


Cusa Tea is the world’s first premium organic instant tea. Sourced from the finest organic tea plantations, Cusa is made from pure tea and real fruit or spices. It takes three seconds to make and achieves a premium loose-leaf tea flavor.

We sat down (over a cup of tea of course) with Jim and Robin Shelley, Marketing Manager at Cusa Tea, to learn more about how they approach selling online and what they’re doing to ensure strong digital growth. We love how this small, but mighty brand is focusing on what works to grow their online sales… read on to learn more!

How important is your online to your company’s strategy?

We believe in an omni-channel approach, but online has been an important part of our business from the beginning. Not only is it the channel that helps us learn the most about our customers, it also delivers the best margins and the most control.

Coffee gets a lot of attention, but 50% of Americans drink tea! Who are they and how can we get them to buy Cusa Tea? We use various digital marketing tools and techniques to answer that, and make sure we’re delivering products they want to buy!

Talk about what you’re doing online...What digital channels and strategies are important to you and why?

Currently, about 20% of our business comes from e-commerce, direct-to-consumer sales. But, online will be a big focus for us in 2019 and we expect that number to go up… significantly.

Originally, Amazon was a big part of our online focus, but things have changed. We work with UNFI and Kehe, and we’ve noticed an uptick in resellers on Amazon as a result. These resellers  are selling our tea below MAP prices, and we’re just not willing to play the pricing game anymore. We’re not pulling off the channel, but we’re not hyper focused on winning the Buy Box at this time. We know resellers are going to get worse as we grow, so we’re focusing on owning the customer.

So, how are you focusing on growing customers that YOU own?

We’re placing a big emphasis on growing our website traffic and email list. We leverage the typical traffic generating channels like Google and Facebook, but we’re going all-in on contests.

Tell us more!

We partner with other outdoor and healthy living companies both larger than us and similar in size to do promotions/giveaways. We ask for $30 worth of free product, handle the creative legwork (pictures), promote for signups, share the email list and try and convert as many customers as possible. It’s been a HUGE success for us.

While some companies do giveaways 2 times a year, we’re doing them 2 times a MONTH! We’re finding that by offering registrants coupon codes upon signup we’re converting them into customers quickly. The hope is they love Cusa Tea and become repeat customers.


Talk to us about Brick-and-Mortar, and how you’re leveraging online to grow in-store traffic and purchases.

We believe that consumers will continue to gravitate to online shopping and grocery delivery versus in-store. In-store will not go away, but the landscape and purchasing patterns will shift. That’s why having a large online presence is critical for us.

Our product lends itself to an omni-channel strategy and we wouldn’t do it any other way. We believe that online supports brick-and-mortar and vice versa. Today, we’re in 1,200 doors. Being in more and more B&M locations has helped create awareness: customers see us in a store first, look for us online, and continue to buy from us online.

But, we are always looking for ways to support our retailers in just about anything we do. We’ve done geo-targeted ad campaigns aimed at raising awareness in areas where Cusa Tea is in a lot of retail stores. We also support store events by advertising their sales. Lastly, we’re testing retail couponing entirely online to see how well that works for us.

What online tools or resources do you recommend other natural products companies take a look at?

We use a variety of tools to manage our digital efforts; however we can’t live without MailChimp and Canva. Mailchimp from an email marketing perspective has been super important to list segmentation and helping grow sales. We use Canva for any content creation we can handle in-house. It’s super simple to use and format content in the sizes needed for social. We also use Buffer and AirTable for social management and Unfold to create Instagram content.

We also recommend signing up for competitor newsletters and emails, as well as other brands you think are doing a good job. There is almost always something to be learned from them. Don’t just gloss over or delete the newsletters sent out by the tools you use. Hubspot, MailChimp and Canva do a good job of inspiring new ideas.

If you were advising a new natural products company on where to invest their time and energy for online sales and community growth, what would you tell them?

Do split testing to see what works best. Give something up if it’s not working, and get on the phone with support to see whether you can get an informal, free lesson on something you’re just not doing right.

As we said before, explore giveaways. They not only give you an opportunity to meet other brands in our industry, but also enable you to build relationships and increase awareness of your brand. Working with them also builds community - you never know when you’ll need a favor or be asked for help (and you should be happy to do so!).

Take every opportunity to make your presence known at any networking or community events. Ask to share samples, or bring a bunch to hand out to everyone you meet.

Want to check out or buy some Cusa Tea? Visit or their Amazon storefront.