Tea for you
WHEN COSTCO CREATES a Kirkland Signature product,
company buyers always look for a niche—characteristics
that make the product different from others in the market.
After all, why put your special signature on something that
isn’t truly special? Take, for example, Kirkland Signature
Japanese Green Tea.
This green tea is 100 percent grown and processed in
Japan. Costco buyer Sarah George explains that the
Japanese method of processing tea uses steam to stop the
fermentation process—unlike the Chinese method, which
calls for pan-frying the tea. The result is a lovely green
color and a consistent flavor that, unlike other brands of
green tea, is neither bitter nor fishy, cup after cup.
Sarah says the biggest difference members will experience with this tea is the taste. It is sweeter than other
brands, and the nylon teabags ensure that paper flavor does
not interfere with the flavor of the tea.
The tea also has matcha—premium ground green tea
leaves for added flavor and health benefits. Green tea is a
proven source of antioxidants, which promote eye health
and aid the immune system.
And price? One box of Kirkland Signature
Japanese Green Tea costs less than $13 for 100
tea bags; comparable teas might cost that
much for no more than 20 tea bags.
“It’s a healthy alternative to coffee,” says
Sarah. “And it’s truly a premium Japanese
product.”—Stephanie E. Ponder
A cut above
IN 2001, WHEN THE Kirkland Signature men’s dress shirt
first hit Costco warehouses, Nordstrom sold shirts of similar
quality for about $40. Costco’s initial price: $17.99.
How can the price be so low? Efficiency in manufacturing
is part of the answer, says Jack Weisbly, the Costco executive
responsible for Kirkland Signature apparel. “For instance,
Costco uses a supplier that grows, harvests, weaves and dyes
the cotton used in Kirkland Signature shirts,” Jack explains.
“This cuts out several processing middlemen, allowing the
supplier to make a profit while keeping our cost down.”
Sheer volume and Costco’s low margins complete the
low-price equation for this shirt.
The low price does not mean low quality, Jack says. Details,
such as cross-stitched, nonbreakable buttons and single-needle
tailoring, put it on par with dress shirts by Brooks Brothers,
Nordstrom and Paul Stuart, after which it was modeled.
“When we originally developed the Kirkland Signature
men’s dress shirt, we examined what were, in our opinions, the
six best dress shirts on the market,” Jack says. “We used fabric
of equal quality and incorporated what we felt were the best
features of each shirt into our shirt.”
Since the Kirkland Signature dress shirt first hit the market, it has been upgraded repeatedly. Today’s shirt is a twill,
which is slightly lighter because it is woven differently, yet just
as strong. The tailoring is of the utmost quality, as Kirkland
Signature shirts have always been.
“In specialty retailing markets, where this caliber of shirt
is commonly sold, it would cost between $80 and $100,” says
Jack. “Our price is now $14.99.”—Will Fifield