‘Cappuccino is still the largest selling coffee variant’

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Nilanjan Bhattacharya

Nilanjan Bhattacharya, COO, India and SAARC at Barista Lavazza

Nilanjan, Bhattacharya, COO & Director, India and SAARC, Barista Lavazza, talks about the changing tastes of the youth of India and how the coffee culture has evolved in the country:

Do you see a change in the consumer behaviour of youth in the last one to two years?
The youth of India is well informed and aware today. Changes in the consumer patterns started happening 7-8 years back, when the economic scenario changed in the country, coupled with the increase in availability of hang out places. The mall culture, café culture and increased disposable income have changed the way youth today conduct themselves and manage their funds.

How much would you credit yourself in bringing about a coffee culture in India?
Barista Lavazza was the pioneer in providing “The real Italian coffee experience” in the country ‘13’ years back. Recognizing the need for an environment where you could sit around with your friends and enjoy a good cup of Italian coffee, play an uninterrupted game of scrabble, strum on the guitar, or jam with your friends; Barista Lavazza brought into the country this long enduring Café culture. We are proud to create a niche in that sense.

With changing lifestyle and consumption trends, youth today has a strong urge to experiment with new products and this has driven growth in the consumption of coffee out of home. A coffee shop today acts as a hangout place, a meeting spot, a reunion joint. For some, it is their third place with which, they begin & end their day.

How much are the youth getting experimentative with tastes?
While the cappuccino has always been our hottest selling beverage, the youth today is more open to trying varied beverages in the menu. It is this changing consumer pattern that encourages us to bring at least two new changes / infusions in our menu in the form of a winter and summer menu every year. We have seen very encouraging results to the launch of our new summer menu ‘Vibrante Venezia’ themed around Venice.

What are the platforms besides the obvious digital media that Barista is using to target youth?
As mentioned, Barista Lavazza was one of the first brands that established a niche and a connection with the youth of the country. Today with over 160 outlets, we reach out to a large base of youth and young working adults, the ones who appreciate a good cup of Italian coffee and keep coming back for the international experience and the flavor.

What activities have you done beyond the digital?
Besides reaching out to our target group through social media, which has gained popularity only in the last four years, Barista Lavazza also uses other platforms such as on-ground promotions, in-store activations, radio promotions, road shows and other such means which are initiated with an objective of bringing novelty to our guests each time they visit us. For example, Barista Lavazza also has an annual event called the ‘Friendship Jam’ through which we reach out to a large group of our followers across the country. The Friendship Jam offers youngsters an opportunity to jive over music and coffee. Organized across cities, the event invites entries from music lovers and performers, who are then called in to perform on two days. Top performers from two cities are invited to play with a celebrity brand at the end of the promotion, which happens closer to the Friendship Day in August.

How do you see the youth in smaller towns and rural vis-à-vis the ones in the metro? How important are they and how are you as a marketer looking at them?
The youth is the same everywhere. The youth in the smaller towns too are now open to experimenting and want to explore new places that offer great menu. Currently Barista Lavazza has over 160 outlets in the country, catering to audiences from different sects and walks of life and our outlets in the smaller towns too have a very good following. We have our cafes in towns such as Kanpur, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Mohali, Vadodara, Indore, Mysore and many more, besides the leading metros and the response has been very encouraging.

What has the key marketing initiatives of Barista been in the past one year to lure the younger generation?
Like I mentioned earlier, we keep bringing in innovations in our menu offerings and in the promotions we do. In the recently launched Summer Menu ‘Vibrante Venezia’, we have introduced new sandwiches such as the Aromatic Cottage Cheese Sandwich (veg) and the Peperoncino Chicken Delight for the non-vegetarians, both of which have become an instant hit with the customers. Each year our newly launched menu brings in fresh flavors from Italy and our much appreciated and enjoyed by our guests.

To celebrate the completion of 12 years in the country and to mark the beginning of our thirteenth year, we recently celebrated ‘Bean 13’, a consumer engagement and celebrity event, where in we invited city based celebrities in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata to share and reminiscence their special moments when they were 13. The customer engagement at stores involved a 13-day guest gratification campaign in which consumers had to share ‘What’s your story, when you were 13?’. A Story board was placed across all Barista Lavazza Espresso Bars and Barista Lavazza Crème stores in the country and guests were asked to participate in the contest.

Other than this we have also recently launched ‘Bean-o-holic’ which is a loyalty card for the lovers of true Italian coffee.

Barista Lavazza also engages in marketing and brand alliances such as the one with Jet Airways, where in consumers, who are also JetPrivilege members can earn 5 JPMiles on every INR 100 spent at any of the Barista Lavazza Cafés across India. These are some of the activations we do round the year to keep our customers engaged and enthused.

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