If Starbucks came to India ..

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 12, 2009

I am a fan of Starbucks. A die-hard fan. As a kid, I remember climbing up on the bar stool, returning the smile to the lady on the other side and asking for a tall latte. They always gave me a free cookie! As a teen, I remember sitting in the corner with a borrowed book from British Council, sipping my cappuccino. The place was always warm, friendly and had a homely feel to it.

Its been six years and I live in India now. There are no Starbucks outlets here. But, there has always been a doubt in my mind. Would Starbucks work in India?

The Indian consumer

The Indian consumer is not pampered. He chooses from options given to him. No customization allowed. Most of the brands have now become me-too and the population is starved for a decent differentiator.

There is a rise of young crowd who belong to the nouveau riche segment. They are being exposed to foreign brands and will definitely want to be part of it when the brand is available here. High on awareness, the crowd is ready and all geared up for the foreign brands.

So, here’s my view of the Indian buying pattern:coffee-cup-cupper

1. Brand

2. Price

3. Value

4. Variety

5. Service

The CCD advantage

It is a place filled with coffee and conversations. Young people, colors and a lot of noise characterize every outlet. Friendships come alive here. The menu is standard and so are prices. It is an inexpensive place to “hang-out.”

CCD merely provides a nice, ambient platform to meet. It helps the young crowd express themselves. The biggest differentiator of CCD is the price. They bundle fun and coffee at an unbelievable price. It’s a mass product.

Starbucks in India

We definitely lack a nice upscale chain of coffee shops. Probably the CCD crowd will stick on, but this will attract the growing crowd who hunt every corner for a different coffee outlet.

Also, Starbucks with all its customization possibilities, warm service and options that are alien to the Indian consumer, they will love it.

One big problem would be price. To create evangelists in India, the pricing may be a problem. If they retain the same pricing, they will definitely begin with a bang. But, they should restrict themselves to the metros and not more than 4 to 5 outlets in the country. No way, can they capture a larger crowd. Starbucks will manage to be another café-at-the-Taj and not a product that becomes a part of everybody life.

In spite of everything, I am sure there are a LOT of people here who would love to stop for a coffee before /after work to enjoy the cuppa, ideate, brainstorm and more. Well, we are talking about a company which enjoys higher sales per sq. foot than McD and also cares enough to provide health insutrance to all its employees (YES !! even part-time).

I think this is the right time for Starbucks to enter India. Crowd with the right outlook for coffee culture is growing big.

I want them in India. Do you?

I live in India now. There are no Starbucks outlets here. But, there has always been a doubt in my mind if it would work?
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9 Responses

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  1. Gaurav said, on September 12, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Yes even i do believe the same. I have seen many people who do not belong to CCD but are still stuck to them due to lack of choice.

    • Abhinaya Chandrasekhar said, on September 12, 2009 at 2:16 pm

      True Gaurav. Hope they get here soon!

  2. Senthil said, on September 12, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    But isn’t Barista trying to be the more upmarket brand in India?

    • Abhinaya Chandrasekhar said, on September 13, 2009 at 5:32 am

      This is a nice angle you have brought out.

      They are trying to be upmarket. But, somehow I feel that they are stuck between the CCD crowd and the niche. The ambience is great, so is the menu. But the target group they aim at should be distilled further.

      My experience with Qwikys has been much better.

  3. Zohran said, on September 13, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Well coming from a Gulf Country, coffee is not coffee here to me, i don’t think its respected as just coffee… i feel too pretentious buying from Costas, Starbucks etc….

    The brand kinda gets to me….how bout i just want coffee…plain old coffee….we really wanna complicate our coffee….yes, although i do wanna check CCD havin heard more bout it other that just the coffee…probably thats what these places are about…more than just coffee..!!

    Next time am goin to Starbucks but not having a coffee 😉

  4. Ravi Chhabra said, on September 13, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Starbucks will have to do a lot of market research to find a place in India. The way it is a craze in US, the same sentiments may not be there in India. It just like the story of Harley Davidson bikes, which are more popular and a cult in US. Very few people know about it in India. But still, Starbucks can definitely give CCD , Barista and the likes a real run for their money

  5. Akshay Dhadna said, on September 13, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Ya same view abhi…i think its the right time for Starbucks to enter india….Just Imagine the scenario…there is CCD with mass presence…the there is Barista Lavazza who are changing their marketing strategies and hence disrupting (i think so!!!) the market by introducing alcohol also…and then there is the God of all..the one who started it…Starbucks….The scenario would be awesome and this market will be to watch out…M waitin for sure…

    Nice one..keep us posted

  6. […] If Starbucks came to India .. « BRAND TOUCHPOINTS – view page – cached Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 12, 2009 — From the page […]

  7. Vishesh Tandon said, on October 23, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Well, I am pretty much convinced by the comment of Zohran, that there’s much BRAND love involved when one buys a cup of coffee from stores like Starbucks. Also I think that Indian coffee lovers are quite evolved and they are ready for a brand like Starbucks. But I still think that Starbucks has a long way to travel to generate more per sq foot sales than McD.
    Nice work Abhinaya…keep it up…

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