In a chat with Restaurant India, Bidisha Nagaraj, Group President â€“ Marketing, Coffee Day, unravels her growth and marketing strategy at the coffee chain:
Café Coffee Day (CCD) has grown as a youth centric brand over the last 18 years. From offering a cup of Cappuccino to giving an overall experience, where customers can spend some time with their family and friends, the brand is looking forward to lure younger crowd at its outlets.
How the drinking habits of people have changed over the years?
When we started 18 years back, consumers used to visit our place, browse internet and have a cup of Cappuccino. Over the years, we realised that people are coming there to hang out, have conversation, meet people, and not just for Cappuccino. 18 years back, they did not have place to go and that was the need that CCD was fulfilling and that’s how over the years, we have moved just from an internet café to a complete experience café.
What are you doing at CCD to make it an experience café rather than bracketing yourself to a coffee café?
When we look at experience, food and beverage is part of the same. We knew that large group of youth come together, so we have large youth table. Depending on the type of conversation they would like to have, one can come and choose the sitting. So, food & beverage, types of furniture, sitting layout, and music and colour in the cafes all form part of experience. My team is trying to give customers an overall experience. You can walk in any of the CCD outlet with a pair of sleepers and nobody would look at you surprisingly. So, it’s a place where nobody judges you with types of cloth you wear. It lets you celebrate who you are.
How do you engage customers at your café?
We engage customers both inside and outside the café. We have mobile app and a lot of things on digital platform outside the cafes. We recently launched six different summer drinks and played a little game with the customers on the digital platform. It’s almost like the rulers game, where whatever number you stop at, you can go to the café and ask for the discount. We got them to engage with the brand, play a game and come to the café.
And once they come back to the café, we engage customers through the type of music we play. Whatever food and beverage we have launched in the café is very well researched, we test it with consumers and if they don’t like it, we don’t launch it. We also have a complete bunch of merchandising items like cups, cookies, coffee machines and we demonstrate them as well.
As this is your second stint with CCD, how has the market evolved over the years?
I have joined back the company after five years and I think, a lot has changed in the market and consumer sight. In the market sight, today there are a lot of choices for consumers, lot of vibrant brands in the market. It’s good because it is increasing width of the capital. Consumers today have so many choices that they are not being loyal to any one brand; they are continuously seeking more experiences, and new tastes.
Do you see any competition from brands like Starbucks?
We did a survey many years back, which gives us an indication that for a country like India, we can have close to 5000-6000 cafes. At present, we have around 1500 cafes and the next competitors are 40-50. So, there is a long room for growth. Starbucks are looking out to a slightly different segment, value proposition is different. So, I don’t think there is a direct conflict between our target audiences because we are operating at two different price segments.