[Interview] K. Ramakrishnan, Cafe Coffee Day, Talks About How the Brand Utilizes Social Media to its Benefit


We interviewed  K. Ramakrishnan, President Marketing of CCD, to understand the social media marketing tactics and the functioning of their brand. He also goes on to elaborate their approach on various platforms and about the launch and conceptualization of campaigns for Café Coffee Day.


How important is social media marketing for a brand like yours?

We use social media for various purposes like delivering quick service and as a medium to review customer feedback. The most important purpose of using social media for a brand like CCD is to co-create options. By co-creating options, I mean collecting essential customer feedback and then utilizing it to create products that the customer might like and also modifying it accordingly by keeping the target audience and location in mind.

Who is your target audience primarily?

Our target audience is primarily the users on our Facebook page and also the people coming to cafés regularly. Our customers visit our cafes and taste our products and post reviews on our page. The feedback is either positive or negative, which helps us in co-creating more options for our customers. We believe that has helped us build an engagement and increase our customers.

By social media do you mean only Facebook?

Predominantly it’s Facebook to a large extent and to some extent Twitter. Our numbers on Twitter are quite small, but we do have highly engaged audience there nonetheless. We were the first brand in India to be active on Foursquare. CCD had also held a contest on Foursquare wherein every three successive check-ins by a customer in the same café would get them a gift voucher or goody from us. We’ve gone one step ahead on Facebook to promote offers as well, so that has become pretty big for us. Co-creating options for customers online continues which also helps to keep on our toes at all times.

Are looking at social media for lead generation?

No, we are currently not looking at social media for lead generation as most of our activities are offline being held in the cafes on a regular basis that guarantees more engagement.The bigger role for CCD is the engagement and to connect better with our customers. The ROI measures have become easier after this happened.

Do you work with an external agency or do you have an in-house team?

We have an in-house team and we work with an agency as well for our social media marketing. We work with 22 Feet as they’ve grown with us and we’ve grown with them since inception of our social media marketing page.

How big is your in-house team?

The In-house team is comprised of only 2 people and the social listening part is done by the agency. We have a fixed format for them to follow and also the pattern we want the work to be executed in

What about customer service? How do you handle it?

Bad experiences with customers has taught us a lot and helped us improve our responses. Customer service is the primary reason which has amplified our want to be on social media. By and large that tends to happen on Twitter but this year we’ve moved away from Twitter being a complaint box to holding topical contests like football and cricket which have trended. We don’t directly engage with the customer complaints on social media but if there is a conversation which highlights the bad service of the café or product we immediately get into it on social media.

As far as involving other departments goes, the voice that goes out for customer service is just one source, but if any escalation is made on social media then it is elevated to the next level. If the next level doesn’t respond in 5-6 hours the responsible person is authorized to take the decision.

Does your agency have any communications with customer’s complaints?

No! Agency is not responsible for communicating with complaints.  Agency communicates with us regarding the complaints and then we take the required action. They are the ones who track, highlight and bring it under our notice.

What are the recent campaigns that CCD has done? What kind of results have you achieved with that?

Lately we’ve been developing our mobile app and promoting it on Facebook. We don’t know what kind of engagement we can expect with Facebook hence we are developing that app to market it on Twitter itself. The app has an amazing location service which will guide to your nearest CCD location. Now we are trying to make the app substantially social. Also we have an innovation calendar, where every month we come up with a new beverage and new food.

What do you think of influencer marketing in India ?

For influencer marketing in social space we haven’t done much. We’ve cultivated a bunch of food bloggers whom we expose our new menu to. We have amplified their reviews on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Our current strategy to choose bloggers: it’s purely the popular ones. There is no technique involved but there are a few people whom we reach out to and feel connected after a period of time.

We keep increasing this list. We try to keep moving and reaching out to new bloggers in each city because each city has a different audience and we need to keep them engaged. The circle whether it grows or not depends on people that we are able to spot. We have a reasonably good digital team so they help us identifying that.

Influencer marketing in India is receiving a lot of flak. For example the Tata Zest event invited food bloggers to its event. What is your take on that?

Today a car is not bought on the basis of what is the horsepower and does it have McPherson suspension. It’s a social division so why should the experts or auto bloggers only be included? Likewise for CCD why should we only have someone who is related to just coffee? Why can’t our target be Milind Soman who drives such a mentality around a healthy lifestyle?

Has social media also helped you in your market research?

Co-creation of options for our customers is entirely research based. Research takes a lot of time and lot of our resources are primarily on social media and also offline activities. So yes I can say that social media has helped us in our research extensively.

Can you share with us the process of ideating and launching a new campaign?

We believe in having a stream of ideas always because we can’t have just one idea and work on it because we are a retail and physically dominant organization. Every month we have a funnel of ideas and out of that we pick 2 or 3 and go with that. Even in the social space we have multiple ideas floating around something for Instagram, Twitter and so on.

Any learning experience you want to share with the other brands as a marketer?

Not a single customer comment or feedback can go unnoticed on social media. That is because a single customer’s comment has the potential to break the company’s brand image. Secondly, customers can contribute to the brand image of your company more than you think they can. Customers are solely responsible for the reputation of a company, hence whole thing of reputation management online is based on the customer whether they are happy with your product and service. If you have good reputation online, you won’t need reputation management.