Pitch CMO Summit 2011: Wagh Bakri – Celebrating ‘chai’

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Café culture has slithered into the Indian market place, making coffee a preferred beverage choice for the present generation. Cafes have created huge demand where there was none. They have become a statement of young and upwardly mobile Indians. The real revolution has been, not to get people in India into coffee shops, but to get them to pay so much for the privilege. However, this culture hasn’t had much effect on tea, a beverage that is intrinsic to Indian culture.

The Challenge
The challenge for Wagh Bakri Tea group was to create the same café culture for tea and create a positive, lifestyle-centric imagery for the beverage. The challenge for Wagh Bakri was also to introduce the Indian audience to the various tea types and flavours that are available. Market experts predict at least 10 crore new coffee drinkers in India in the coming future, who are potential tea drinkers as well. It thus becomes imperative to tap this market.

The Strategy
“Media has brought a lot of global ideas, attitudes into the minds of consumers”, says Parag Desai, Executive Director, Wagh Bakri Tea Group. The group aims to bring home these ideas and customise them for the Indian consumers. An imagery is being created to make tea appear more exotic. Wagh Bakri is also targeting the youth who are earning and spending more by every passing day. The group is aiming to tap the lack of hangout joints and the lack of time in people’s lives. After intensive research, the group realised that while 5-star hotels were not affordable for majority of consumers, tea shops under the tree were shoddy and not fit for families. Thus came the idea of launching tea lounges.

The Implementation

Parag Desai, Executive Director, Wagh Bakri Tea Group

Wagh Bakri Tea has opened two tea lounges since the last two and a half years – one in Mumbai and another in Delhi. The group is customising the cafes to the concept of tea-time that people in the region have. WBTL has been positioned as a place where tea lovers, food connoisseurs, tea aficionados and health conscious people can understand and appreciate tea. The location of the lounges has been given immense importance. Both the lounges are contemporary spaces, placed at prime locations with a premium ambience.

In an attempt to customise the concept, the food on offer is of the Indian and Iranian Variety which is more apt for Indian tea-drinkers like samosas, kachoris, dhoklas, scones, cinnamon rolls and cookies. For Delhi, some locally popular food has been added to the menu. The motive is to re-introduce tea as a trendy social beverage and take it out to an urban contemporary space, out of home and away from road side tea stalls.

To position tea as an exotic beverage and for greater brand awareness, the staff has been equipped with necessary information about tea types and processes of preparation. Events like ‘The Ice Tea festival’ and ‘Winter Tea’ festival help the brand to connect with consumers and create a strong emotional bond. The brand is also present on social platforms such as Facebook to reinforce the connect.

Desai claims to have over 200 patrons visiting the Wagh Bakri Tea Lounge every day. With over 40,000 active fans on Facebook, the brand seems to have struck a chord with Indian tea-drinkers. The brand has collaborated with ‘’ to come up with a digital campaign, where consumers claim their visit to the Wagh Bakri Tea Lounge. Desai estimates around 5,000 tea cafes in the next five years and feels that a revitalized imagery of the beverage would be needed to take the common-man’s drink from the ‘kettli-wala’ boy to contemporary cafes.

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