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Marketing Interviews

Kamal Manchanda

Regional Director | 15 May 2004

'We are going overseas with a café coming up in West Asia. The first café is expected to open by June 2004. We have the right background of taste for coffee. It is due to the ideal customer positioning and approach that the footfalls have increased.’

It’s hard to miss: It sports a youthful look. Plush, pleasing interiors, plus colours such as lime green, yellow, purple and orange predominate make Café Coffee Day a soft-low decibel spot for the trendy youth. In a candid chat with Ashish Singh of exchange4media.com, Kamal Manchandani, Regional Director, Café Coffee Day, a division of Amalgamated Bean Coffee Trading Company Ltd (ABCTCL), speaks about the intricate aspects that make Café Coffee Day a hot brand with the youth. Truly, if excitement has an address, it would be Café Coffee Day. It’s just the place to be. Read on.

Q. What is ABC Trading Company?

ABCTCL is a fully integrated coffee making company (incorporated in 1992) in the sense that it controls all activities right from coffee growing to serving coffee. Broadly, the group owns 4,500 acres of coffee plantations. ABCTCL procures over 30,000 tonnes of coffee from the plantations of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu by means of its vast network of 30 depots and 75 agents. ABCTCL’s curing capacity is over 50,000 tonnes of coffee beans which is made possible with the help of two plants at Hassan and Chickmangalur with an overall investment of close to Rs 40 crore.

Q. Café Coffee Day, how did it all start?

Cafe Coffee Day is the division or rather a trendy offshoot of ABCTCL. It was a natural extension of getting close to the customer and what the customer likes. In 1996, as part of ABCTCL’s retail branded extension exercise, we launched the first café in Bangalore. In 1997 we came up with the second outlet.

Q. But it took a while for you to mark a bigger presence in the market.

Well, we just wanted to penetrate deeply, understand the consumer behaviour and we wanted to stay and rise. So we were slow and steady.

Q. How many Café Coffee Day outlets are there presently in India?

At present we have 150 Cafe Coffee Day outlets in India. In North India we started aggressively in 2000 and till date have been able to come up with 20 outlets in Delhi and 20 outside Delhi. We also have set up a chain of over 200 exclusive coffee point outlets called Fresh ‘n’ Ground in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Q. What makes Café Coffee Day just the pace to be?

The ambience is very enchanting. Plush, pleasing interiors which sooth your nerves, even as they lift your spirits. The coffee, of course, is the raison d’etre of the wonderful coffee experience. Made from beans, handpicked from prime estate, roasted and blended to perfection by one of the country’s foremost cup tasters to bring you aroma and taste that is unique and rich.

Q. Who is a Cafe Coffee Day customer?

Young at heart. The 15-35 years of age group which is meeting to get refreshed, or for chat or reading or for that sake dating. People who want to have a good time and good break.

Q. Recently you tied up with CHannel [V] for the ‘Get gorgeous’ hunt. How do these below-the-line activities help in promoting the brand?

See...we want to add to the excitement of our customer by offering exciting and adventurous associations. Last year in 2003 we launched the ‘Treasure Hunt’. It was a stupendous success. Then, we had some activities, exciting and adventurous in spirit, with Levi’s and Airtel. These are all youngster-related activities since we have loyal and regular customers, and so we keep doing these in-house activities. Then, we have a Café Coffee Day Citizen Card, by which we send invites and other interesting information to the customer.

Q. Has your customer data increased since 1996?

We had a survey in Bangalore. We found out that percentage of youth--aged between 15-25--visiting our outlet at least three times a week, was 70 per cent. Average footfall per day is been 50,000 to 70,000 customers at our outlets. The number is growing.

Q. What about selling coffee in any other format for corporate and institutions?

We have Coffee Day Express, a counter that we put up in a smaller format alongside corporate offices and at captivating locations. We have had 30 such outlets coming up in Delhi alone, in the last six months. We want to give our customer the best and at the same time we have to be close to our customer also. More than 125 outlets are there all over India. We also have a strategic tie-ups with Indian Oil and HPCL whereby we run Coffee Day Express outlets at select oil-stations where traffic is the maximum . Then, we have vending machines in South India in association with Glaxo Smithkline Beecham. In the next five years Café Coffee Day will be a major brand.

Q. Do you have plans of expansion on foreign shores?

Yes. We are going overseas with a cafe coming up in West Asia. The first café is expected to open by June 2004.

Q. What does the tag line ‘A lot can happen’ purport to say?

Aptly chosen. Coffee can prompt you to get into a different kind of mind. You end up having a good time. Coffee can lead you to so many things.

Q. What is the USP of Cafe Coffee Day?

Firstly, We have the right background of taste for coffee. It is due to the ideal customer positioning and approach that the footfalls have increased. Average footfall per day has been 50,000 to 70,000 customers at our outlets. The number is growing.

Secondly, we concentrate on the quality and range of products. We understand coffee much more than anyone itself. We were positioned third at the World Barista Championship in 2003. And, we have been winning the Indian Barista continuously holding the top position since the last four years. Lastly, our pricing has been kept in mind for the youngsters.

Q. What about your merchandise?

We have launched our very own brand of merchandise comprising coffee mugs, t-shirts, caps and the like. The primary objective is to create and increase the brand awareness and equity as it bears our distinctly coloured logo

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