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Interview: Puneet Das, president, packaged beverages, India and South Asia, Tata Consumer Products

‘D2C will soon be the key channel for our premium brands’

In the case of Tata Tea Premium’s Independence Day #DeshKaGarv campaign, digital was the most leveraged medium that helped build frequency, followed by print.
In the case of Tata Tea Premium’s Independence Day #DeshKaGarv campaign, digital was the most leveraged medium that helped build frequency, followed by print.

Tata Consumer Products is looking to expand the company’s line of wellness beverages this fiscal, besides focusing on premiumisation and unlocking the value at the bottom of the pyramid. Its president, packaged beverages, India and South Asia, Puneet Das, speaks with Akanksha Nagar about the company’s direct-to-consumer play and its growth ambition. Excerpts:

Within the beverages portfolio, which are the brands that are expected to fuel the growth of the company in the short term? 

We are looking at driving growth from the premium end of the business. Premium brands including Sonnets by Tata Coffee, Tata Tea Gold, and Tata Tea Premium contributed a lot to the company’s growth. Meanwhile, we are trying to drive innovation in the health and wellness segment. We recently restaged Tata Tea Premium’s TeaVeda which offers the goodness of natural ingredients with the taste of a regular cup of tea. We will also focus on Tata Tea Gold Care, Tata Tea Chakra care as part of our efforts to growing the wellness beverage portfolio. Tata Tea Gold Care, a variant that we launched last year, has scaled up quite rapidly and has become a sizeable part of the Gold franchise. Our coffee category is also growing well, volumes grew 43% YoY in Q1 of this fiscal with revenue growth of 73% during the quarter. There were new SKU launches and roll-outs in new geographies. Finally, we are trying to unlock growth at the bottom of the pyramid; as testament to that we have the brand Agni which has been one of the biggest volume-drivers for us. 

The company already has a wide distribution network. So why are you taking the direct-to-consumer (D2C) route? 

While we are a widely distributed company, we have brands that may not be as mass distributed as others. Our premium offerings like 1868 by Tata Tea and Sonnets by Tata Coffee are sought online by consumers. That’s where the idea of D2C came along. Also, today digital-first brands, they’re going offline. Omnichannel is the experience that matters today. In our case, we are starting the other way. While we are a traditionally distributed company and our mass products will remain there, there are enough and more opportunities for products to be sold through D2C. Premiumisation directly via D2C is a big lever and we will continue to strengthen the same. D2C as a channel has potential for the future — be it direct engagement with the consumer or insight mining. For certain sub-segments/premium categories it can even be a leading revenue generator. As and when our premium portfolio increases across categories, we will look at integrating them along with D2C.  In fact, for our gourmet beverages — 1868 by Tata Tea and Sonnets by Tata Coffee — D2C is the primary channel and has been registering month-on-month growth. It can become a key channel in the future, especially for some of our premium brands. Having said that, we have Nutrikorner, which brings together all our brands in India under one roof, offering consumers a more convenient shopping experience online. We have also expanded our pincode reach to service more than 10 cities.

Tell us about the company’s  hyper-local marketing strategy. 

Our entire marketing mix is  curated at a hyperlocal level. We go about choosing the media mix keeping in mind each state’s consumption habit. For instance, our campaign in Delhi is largely digital-led, whereas in Uttar Pradesh, it will have television and some local channels apart from the digital mix. In the case of Tata Tea Premium’s Independence Day #DeshKaGarv campaign, digital was the most leveraged medium that helped build frequency, followed by print. 

The company has also experimented with the metaverse. What sort of RoI did it reap and what are the plans ahead?

The idea was to give a hyper-local immersive experience to our consumers and celebrate Holi in the metaverse. What we really measure through such activities is the return on objective and our objective in this particular case was to give an immersive experience and to drive brand engagement. The average user spent about 18 minutes during the festival. Through this, we learned that to truly make the metaverse function for the brand, the correct vendor partners must be chosen, even though it is important to do modest portions of such experiments as testing at the beginning. There is no plan on this front for now. 

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