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By Vivin Wason, Brand Consultant, Brands of Desire

Hey! Did you notice what Café Coffee Day has been up to recently? It does not feel the same asit used to inside a CCD. Well something has surely been brewing. As red takes a backseat, a touch of sophistication gets added with more premium colour scheme. One can now walk-in a CCD just to unwind on the plush new seats. What looks like a complete turnaround in terms of the stores’ visual merchandising, is however, being passed as a routine “change” (read ongoing service reinvention) by a Mr. K. Ramakrishnan (fondly known as Ramki), President, Marketing. Or is it just a minor adjustment that would see the brand come neck and neck with a number international players looking to leverage the growing fondness of coffee and coffee bars across India. The likes of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf from Los Angeles, California, the Australian chain Gloria Jean’s Coffees, and, the Seattle based coffee major Starbucks have already started shown an aggressive intent w.r.t. creating a pan India presence. Even so, most experts today are of the viewpoint that there is enough room for everyone to grow.

The question that arises in the wake of this new evidence, however, is that – Will store experience become an instrumental factor in upgrading the Indian consumers to a higher price point, just like they were upgraded when Cafe Coffee Day first came in? Before being able to answer that query, one needs to understand CCD’s real proposition. Ever since it’s rebranding in the year 2010, much of the brand’s success can be attributed to its ability to proffer the requisites of a preferred hangout destination, for both professionals as well as students. Even with a multitude of formats in which the brand operates – from the Coffee Day Lounge, to the Coffee Day Square, along with the smaller kiosk format Coffee Day Express – ‘conversations’ remain to be the key brand offering. Another determining factor that one has to eventually concede remains the quality of the products and services. The international players are fast catching up on the Indian flavor of things. You will soon to be able to order products such as Wasabi Kothimbirwadi English Muffin, Puran Poli Danish, Murg Tikka Panini over a Starbucks counter. On the other hand, for CCD there has been a continuous decline in the customer’s perception of the quality of their food and service. Even if CCD aims to target an audience which is slightly more mass affluent, it will have to significantly improve upon its products as well as the quality of services being offered, in order to achieve a consistent store experience across the country.

Resources:

Business Today – http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/starbucks-in-india-how-other-cafe-chains-would-react/1/22481.html

Business Standard – http://www.business-standard.com/article/management/starbucks-serves-a-local-brew-113091800911_1.html

Afaqs – http://www.afaqs.com/interviews/index.html?id=370_Conversation-is-the-main-product-at-Caf

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