[Interview] Sushant Dash, Tata Global Beverages on social media for regional marketing


What is it that a tea brand can tell you through social media? Turns out, a lot. Tata Tea Kanan Devan uses social media not only to engage awareness but create brand recall like never before. Social Samosa gets in conversation with Sushant Dash, Regional President – India, Tata Global Beverages to understand the role of social media in regional marketing.

As a brand what is your objective from social media?

At Tata Tea Kanan Devan, we understand and recognize the role social media plays in brand storytelling. The growing popularity of social mediums like Instagram and Snapchat is proof that visual content is a powerful tool to connect with our consumers who are spending much of their time online. Tata Tea Kanan Devan has worked towards creating magical beverage moments for our tea-loving consumers since our inception in 1985. Our strong heritage and superior product has helped us gain brand recognition in Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. Through social media, we want to connect with our younger, digitally savvy audience through unique engagements and make our heritage story relevant to them.

How would you profile the audience you’re targeting through social media?

Our target audience consists of tea-drinkers in the three states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. All our online communication and campaigns aim to engage with these tea-loving consumers who are a mix of both youngsters are well as homemakers who are the primary decision-makers in their home.

What is the idea behind The Photography Escapade? How is the campaign helping you establish your brand identity on social media?

Tata Tea Kanan Devan has a strong heritage and we are constantly evolving and innovating to remain relevant to our consumers. While the aim was to reach out to this young set of audience, we also had a strong story to narrate. In an age of click-and-share, photography stood out as a medium that could not only help us connect with the youth, but also narrate our brand story. This formed the basis of our idea for the Photography Escapade. We wanted to create a platform where budding and expert photographers could explore the lush greens of Kanan Devan Hills in Munnar through their lenses. With a successful start, this contest grew into a sought-after platform for nature enthusiasts and photographers from across the country. The second edition of Photography Escapade helped us build a network of young ambassadors for the brand and has brought together a diverse set of people with a love for two things – tea and photography.

Taking this to the next level, this year the winning photograph will adorn Tata Tea Kanan Devan special edition packs, reaching out to millions of consumers who may not be present in the digital space. Additionally, the best shortlisted pictures taken by the 10 winners during the trip will be featured on a special Photography Escapade 2 calendar for 2017. This allows us to take Kanan Devan’s leaf-to-cup story beyond the digital platform and share it with our end consumer at the point of purchase.

What was the brief given to the team or the agency for this campaign?

At Tata Global Beverages, we have always believed in innovation and in doing things differently. In fact, Tata Tea Kanan Devan was one of the first tea brands in the country which was packed in a poly-pack – a paradigm shifting phenomenon for the tea industry. Given this understanding, our single line brief to Maxus India, our digital agency, was to come up with an idea that would bring out the uniqueness of Tata Tea Kanan Devan while helping us bridge the gap with our younger audience.

How would you describe your brand voice on social media?

Tata Global Beverages is the world’s second largest player in the branded tea segment with a heritage of innovation and development. Consumer centricity is at the heart of everything we do at TGB including all our communication across mediums. We aim to create content that resonates with our audience in a meaningful manner while staying relevant to the product. Our TG is digitally savvy and are spending more time online than any other medium, hence our content needs to be sharable, relatable and buzz worthy. While activations and campaigns like ‘Tata Tea Agni’s rural mobile -based women’s empowerment communication and ‘Jaago Re’ saw immense success due to its social relevance, a voice like Granny G which is youthful, fun yet strong helped us break the clutter when we launched Tata Coffee Grand.

What kind of content hooks do you use to engage with your audience on social media?

We are operating at a time when things are constantly evolving and our consumers are at the center of this evolution. Keeping this in mind, we make sure our content is relevant and touch topics that our consumers are engaging in. From social cause to topical subjects, our content gives consumers things to consider and we believe this is key in getting our TG to engage with us on various social media platforms.

Which has been your most successful campaign so far? What do you think led to the success?

When Tata Tea launched the ‘Power of 49’ (PO49) campaign to educate women about the importance of their collective vote in the Indian general election of 2014, apart from a strong TVC to land the message, 50+ content forms and 40+ cause endorsers helped us create a first of-its-kind, crowd-sourced women’s manifesto, supported by social, mobile, and real-time data management. This changed the way 100 million women voted in the elections. The impact on women and business was so huge that our engagement on social media platforms increased tremendously. PO49 trended organically on Twitter four times during the campaign period by reaching over 45,000 people every day on Twitter. On Facebook, we engaged with over 1.2 million fan and our weekly reach increased by 200%, at 9 lac/week, reaching a total of over 22 million people.

Last year, when we were faced with the challenge of positioning Tetley as the leader in the green tea category, we decided to focus our efforts on owning the category in the digital space. This gave birth to The Transformation Series – A first of its kind 12-part reality webisode series – that was executed and promoted only on digital. We wanted to make the content discoverable, viewable and sharable. Health and wellness seekers in India are across the digital landscape consuming various forms of content. By using social media platforms, we saw a 35% increase in awareness scores and reached 30million internet users. #TransformWithTetley trended at the number one position on Twitter twice and 9 lakh minutes of our content was watched on YouTube and Facebook.

Tata Tea Kanan Devan began is digital journey in 2014 and Photography Escapade is the brand’s biggest digital asset so far. The second edition of the campaign helped us reach 80% of our target audience and the engagement has doubled since last year. The overwhelming response that we received from our consumers has encouraged us to make it larger and more impactful with each edition.

Do you have presence on peer to peer platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat? If yes, how do you use it? If no, what is the hindrance with these platforms?

When we launched Tata Coffee Grand, we wanted to tell our compelling product and source story, we created Granny G – a brand personality who is youthful, fun and quirky. Granny G is a South Indian grandmother but we didn’t want her appeal to be limited only to South India or with the older audience. Therefore, we used digital media to cut across demographics. On Twitter, we witnessed very high impact by sharing Granny’s point of view on all current affairs.

Similarly, platforms like Instagram are an indispensable part of our social media strategy especially for Tata Tea Kanan Devan since we have a strong origin story. The visual nature of Instagram aids our storytelling. Given that most photographers have a presence on Instagram, it enabled us to connect with them for Photography Escapade.

YouTube v/s Facebook Videos – which according to you gets more results?

We have used both platforms to engage with consumers based on the objectives of the content. Looking purely from a CPV perspective, YouTube is currently more effective because the cost per view is charged at 30 seconds while Facebook is charged at 10 seconds. Furthermore, targeting options on YouTube have proven to be effective for our set of brands.

What is that one thing that can make a brand successful on social media?

Creative storytelling that engages with the consumer while remaining authentic to the brand is what it takes to build a successful brand on social media. To generate value in terms of engagement and buzz for the content shared on social media, brands must invest content marketing money in ways that have a substantial return on investment.