How Tata Coffee Grand is using sonic disruption as a successful marketing strategy

In November 2015, Tata Consumer Products announced its entry into the branded instant coffee business in India under the brand name – Tata Coffee Grand. Being a leading player in the tea market under its iconic Tata Tea brand, the company took this strategic step to leverage its product, marketing and retail expertise to enter the branded coffee market in India. While the coffee market in the South is highly competitive, but the product differentiation offered by Tata Coffee is expected to help the brand to make some dent in this market. The product is an innovative offering made from some of the finest coffee blends and “flavour locked decoction crystals”, which give the customer the ‘best in class’ taste experience in the instant coffee category.

To give a further push and create awareness about this coffee brand, a new campaign has been created for the South market with an interesting proposition of ‘Shik-Shik-Shik’. This sonic disruptor has been developed to make the campaign memorable and help consumers connect easily with the flavour locked decoction crystals.

In conversation with Adgully, Puneet Das, Senior VP, Marketing - Beverages, Tata Consumer Products, speaks at length about the thought behind the campaign, the strategy to strengthen Tata Coffee’s presence in the coffee market and also using sonic disruption as a marketing strategy.

Is this a repositioning exercise for the brand? Why is a new push given to the Tata Coffee Grand after two years?

We has actually introduced Tata Coffee Grand in late 2016 - early 2017, and the idea was to basically take part in the coffee segment. We have taken 2-3 years of just understanding our learnings from the market, such as what’s working, what’s not working. So, this one is like really trying to unlock the potential that we believe our product has and going full out, because I think the 3-4 critical things that are required in the FMCG and in the coffee category are, firstly, having reach, especially in the South; you need to be easily accessible. Second is having a great product, which we feel we do, and third is communicating the proposition of why you feel you are different and why should consumers try your product. So, I think we’ve got all the three in place and that’s why this renewed foray of, as I say, unlocking the potential for our brand. We are obviously a very marginal and new player having a share of less than 1% of the overall market and 1.6% share in Tamil Nadu. So, this really is our effort to now become a leading player.

What kind of repositioning are you looking at for your brand and communication?

We have this unique flavour locked decoction crystals in Tata Coffee Grand, which lock in great taste, aroma and freshness, thus, anyone who tries our product will find great tasting coffee. So, what we are doing is taking this proposition out to the consumer, especially in a value pack of Rs 2, which contributes to almost 60% in the South market, which is the biggest coffee market. No one is giving this kind of a great coffee at that kind of a price point. Our product is also available across other price points, including a poly bag of 50 gm priced at Rs 10; but the idea is to get more and more consumers to try out our product and hence, we are offering this flavour-locked decoction crystal product at Rs 2, which, like I said, forms the bulk of the category sales especially in the South.

What is the product differentiation offered as compared to the competitor brands like Bru, Sunrise and local filter coffee brands in the South? Who are you targeting in your communication?

Our product is better in terms of blend, and it is a good blend. From an instant coffee point of view, like I said, no one is really offering this kind of a quality coffee, especially in the low denomination packs, which we are giving. So, we feel it’s a great coffee experience and with our strong distribution, reach and with our awareness creating initiative, we should be able to get the consumers to try our brand and stick to it.

We are primarily targeting the instant coffee drinkers in the South, where instant coffee is a big category, especially in Tamil Nadu, which is one of the biggest markets. We are targeting the young people as well as everyday instant coffee users.

What is the objective of this new film? How did you cull out the insight – Shik-Shik-Shik – and how did you arrive at the film idea?

An interesting idea emerged through our proposition of flavour locked decoction crystal, where we thought about how do we take it to the consumers; how does one get to know about the flavour without really opening the pack; how are we different? One needs to prepare the coffee to really understand the difference. If you look at our coffee blend and compare it with the competition you will find that their coffee is more powdery, whereas because of our decoction crystals we are a bit more granular and a bit coarser. We came out with the idea of leveraging the granules inside the pack, which you cannot see, but when you shake the pack there is a very distinct sound that comes from the granules inside. Thus, we felt it’s a very interesting concept and we took this idea of Shik Shik Shik – that Tata Coffee Grand is a great coffee and the way you can find out is just by shaking the pack so you will hear a sound and that became the campaign idea for a great sounding as well as great tasting coffee.

The Shik Shik Shik idea was made relevant and very relatable to coffee moments like a girl waking up in the morning, a couple going to a café where instead of asking for Tata Coffee Grand they just say ‘Can I get a Shik Shik Shik’. This created a lot of intrigue value for the consumers.

Are you looking at the ‘Shik Shik Shik’ sound as your brand property in all your communication?

Yes, absolutely. Through the ‘Shik Shik Shik’ sound we are trying to create is a sonic disruptor that we link to our flavour locked decoction crystals, which is the whole reason why our product tastes really good and gives a great coffee experience. Thus, it’s a very unique take on the category, which obviously has always just talked about the same things of aroma and taste. This is a very new way of looking at it, which is what you need in a category like coffee, which is a habit category and people are so used to buying their own brands. Therefore, you need to shake them up, you need them to sit up and take notice of your product, your brand and give them a reason to try it out.

What kind of media channels are you exploring to reach your audience? Are you looking at any regional magazines or mediums to support the main campaign?

Since we are largely digital focused, initially we had not planned to go en masse, but now with this current proposition, the idea is to focus mainly on mass mediums like TV and complement it with digital. Obviously, with an audio proposition like ‘Shik Shik Shik’, the idea is to leverage more audio-video mediums rather than static mediums. The static mediums will be used tactically to give information on pricing or offers once in a while, but the key focus remains on TV followed by digital. We are also looking at sampling and some related activities, such as magazine sampling and direct sampling for consumers.


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