Article by: Jesselyn Handoko
For all bubble tea lovers in Singapore, some might be wondering why the constant bubble tea rebranding, or changes- from ShareTea to Gong Cha to LiHo, some might notice that they have different menus and tastes. And recently, Singapore has undergone large changes in their bubble tea industry, with the shutting down of Gong Cha outlets, and the opening of LiHo bubble tea stores. Some might be wondering- what’s happening?
Simply put, the LiHo brand monopolization started with the former franchisee for bubble tea brand Gong Cha, Rodney Tang, had a disagreeable experience during the time of his franchisee contract with Royal Tea Taiwan, the parent company of Gong Cha. Previously, Tang had connections with people of authority within the Royal Tea Taiwan company, who were supposedly his friends. However, during a business trip to meet with his Taiwanese business partners, he found that the entire company had been sold to Gong Cha Korea, and that his friends were no longer the ones in control of the company. Feeling betrayed, Tang decided to launch his own bubble tea brand, LiHo.
However, after only six months of being replaced by local brand LiHo, Gong Cha returned to Singapore by opening an outlet in Takashimaya, and recently, an outlet in Plaza Singapura, which replaced a LiHo outlet. As Gong Cha still has many loyal customers despite their initial closing, their reopening caused a large number of people to queue to purchase their drinks.
Bubble tea, being an open market, continues to have many competitors attempt to topple the other- LiHo had attempted to create a unique selling point which would attract customers to their brand, which is their signature cheese-infused drinks. However, Gong Cha’s classic menu evidently still had the favor of the people, as their efforts in making a return from the initial LiHo monopoly of Gong Cha’s outlets has been swift and successful.