‘Our strategies don’t revolve around what competition does’

Q&A with K Ramakrishnan, president - marketing, Café Coffee Day, on new themes, marketing plans and more

Aug 01, 2013 03:30:00 PM | Article | Campaign India Team

Tell us more about the new themes for CCD outlets around the country?

K Ramakrishnan (KR): Fundamentally, we are looking to get away from the ‘template’ cafés usually follow. We are looking at multiple themes and will vary them according to the area. For example, we have the ‘artsy’ theme – here the feel of the café is very arty (could be heavily wooded, etc.). The second theme we have is ‘heritage’. Right now, we have only one café themed that way, at Brigade Road in Bengaluru. The other themes haven’t been decided yet and we’re still planning their launch. We’re looking at themes as a means of distinguishing our own cafés from each other so that there’s an element of variety and surprise.

‘Artsy’ is more or less the standard design of our café, but there could be subtle differences from café to café.

Will there be different price points for differently themed cafes?


Aren’t we already seeing that though? Different CCD outlets do have variations in price?

We have three formats – Café, Lounge and Square. The three formats are on different price points. Within café’s, depending on the location and rental costs, there can be a variation in pricing. Clearly, the café in an airport will be more expensive compared to one in a suburb. But largely, if you see within CCDs (cafes), the price difference won’t be that much, but the price variation comes between formats (Café, Lounge and Square).

CCD had rolled out its first TV and print campaigns at the end of 2012. What's been the response?

What we did last December was just the beginning. The fundamental role of that was to expand the market, which means get more and more people into cafes. That’s not a measure that’s going to change after 60 days of advertising. This is only the beginning and we’ll be on TV at some stage again and have more to do with products. We started with a purely theme-based communication before moving to products like combos. The product-based communication will continue because every quarter we’re coming out with a new range of products.

What is the brand's plan for this year? Any campaigns lined up?

Our marketing plans revolve around cafes and digital media largely. We have a huge social presence and have close to about 4 million fans on Facebook. We use that a lot to co-create products and build engagement. That’s one major part of the plan.

The second part of the plan is moving from being passive and making the café talk to the consumer. The third is around new products every quarter and communicating them via print, outdoor or television. The fourth is the expansion of cafes.

Competition with international chains entering India (Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, Costa, Di Bella, Coffee Bean etc.) is growing. How is that being addressed?

We currently have 1,497 outlets around the nation. All the other cafés in put together won’t cross 400 outlets. As far as competition goes, it’s welcome. It helps us build the market for cafes. Once the market grows, so does CCD.

Hopefully, new benchmarks will come in through competition which can help us also grow and improve further. Our strategies don’t revolve around what competition does - they are around our consumers and their preferences.

Who would you describe as a CCD consumer?

Our bulls eye consumer would be 17 to 24, SEC AB, living in the top metros. But the consumption audience is much larger.

How is CCD using its own space for promotions? How big an opportunity is that for CCD? What kind of revenues does it deliver and what's the potential? Is there a guide on kind of brands / associations CCD can enter?

It’s a big opportunity for us. We are easily the largest aggregator of youth in India. There are brands that want to talk to the youth. The resident time of an average customer is more than 45 minutes in the outlet. So it becomes a kind of audience that can’t be ignored. To that extent, a lot of brands come up to us and ask to speak to our consumer and we get remunerated in that process. The good part about that money is that it goes straight to the bottom line. It doesn’t affect anything else as there’s no cost associated with this. But of course, there’s a fine line to draw between how much we want to talk about ourselves versus how much we let others talk to our consumers.
We have a veto on the type of creatives that can be used. Further, we don’t let brands that don’t share the same ethos as us advertise.