Bharat Sethi of Rage Coffee on the role of Instagram marketing in the third wave of coffee

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Rage Coffee Social media strategy

The Third Wave of coffee in India was driven major by educating the consumers who now sought information on the story of the bean. Bharat Sethi of Rage Coffee sheds light on the role of social media, especially Instagram, in leveraging this wave for the brand's growth.

It was not long ago that the Indian coffee market consisted of big wigs such as Nescafe and Bru. A drink considered 'fancy' by the masses, coffee as a beverage has come a long way, as consumers understand the beans better building their own choices and preferences, and many homegrown D2C brands cater to these needs, giving rise to the third wave of coffee with an emphasis on social media and marketing.

According to Statista Research Departments' reports, in the FY2021 alone Coffee consumption amounted to over 1,180 thousand 60 kilogram bags across India. The Indian Coffee market today is valued at $1.46 Bn.

The Third Wave Of Coffee & Social Media

Essentially there have been three major coffee waves in India, each depending on various cultural factors and how consumers interact with coffee as a consumable good.

"Broadly speaking, the first wave covers the rise of ready-to-brew coffee in the 19th century and the second wave refers to the rise of speciality coffee makers," says Bharat Sethi, Founder, Rage Coffee.

Prior to the third wave, it was largely an unserved duopolistic market that was devoid of any real innovation and under penetrated online.

The third wave of coffee essentially evolved coffee from a beverage that was consumed to a beverage that is appreciated. Sethi explains that Instagram has played a huge role in educating consumers about the brand and the evolution of coffee.

"The third wave has placed a high value on the quality of coffee beans as well as the origin of the coffee. With that comes a renewed focus on the individual flavour of the coffee bean, and the β€œstory” of each bean and Instagram played a huge role in educating the consumers in the third wave," Sethi adds.

Rage Coffee, founded in 2018, found its audience in the tough times of COVID. With waves of the pandemic accelerating a digital push, brands found it easier to reach out to the audience. And in terms of coffee, trends like Dalgona Coffee only made it much more interesting.

"Social media conversations have been key in establishing a connection with the end consumer," Sethi tells Social Samosa. "Our social feeds are flooded with User Generated Content and we highlight some of these through IG stories. We keep the content very relevant to the customer and focus on the channel for establishing dialogue around receiving product feedback."

Sethi shares that the pulse of the d2c customer today is on the active social media channels. From appreciation, referrals, and feedback to improvement - everything is out there on the social channels.

Here's a rundown of the Rage Coffee marketing strategy.

Influencer & Celebrity Push

In addition to an active social media presence, the brand recently roped in Virat Kohli as the face of Rage Coffee and associated with MTV's Roadies.

"We expect the association with Virat Kohli to boost the brand as a fan favourite and create a pathway for customer acquisition. With the infused capital we will expand our online presence and offline footprint Pan-India and will utilize the capital for marketing and distribution purposes as well as to scale production, launch new products and add senior management talent," Sethi says.

Additionally, Rage Coffee has a long standing partnership with the Bengaluru Football Club and food enthusiasts rockyandmayur, with both making frequent appearances on the brand's social media pages.

Along with it, bringing the brand to the audience with the help of macro and micro-influencers on Instagram has given Rage Coffee a human touch. "Social validation is the 21st century version of word-of-mouth - which remains the sure-shot way of reaching new audiences", adds Sethi.

Influencers have also played an integral role in building a community of like-minded coffee lovers or 'Ragers' as Sethi terms them. Community marketing has played an ascendingly important role in the last few years, especially as consumers take pride in being super fans and loyalists.

Increasing Importance Of Instagram

Sethi explains that Instagram has been the most important communication platform for Rage Coffee. "Instagram is where we interact directly with the community of Ragers, spreading awareness about coffee, introducing new products and sharing knowledge, recipes and simplifying the coffee experience," he adds.

While the brand has been active on other platforms such as Facebook and email newsletters, Instagram is where their audience has best responded.

Through tactics such as recipes, offers, and new launches, Rage is attempting to become a part of the consumers' daily coffee fix.

A few content pegs that stand out on Instagram are:


This part of their brand strategy plays an eminent role in maintaining their feed. With almost 6-7 recipes coming every month, it has the audience wanting more, especially as recipes as a content format saw a huge spike across platforms, during the pandemic.

Books & Coffee: A Love Story

Rage Coffee has been leveraging the ultimate match; Coffee & books, a combo that is time and again used by book influencers or '#bookstagrammers' as well. Rage Coffee's this plug has well resonated with the young crowd. Especially now, when #bookstagram movement has completely changed the way people approach content.

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With marketplaces like Amazon and Quick Commerce apps such as Swiggy Instamart, Blinkit, and more the brand drives traffic to its e-commerce avenues through Giveaways.

With winnings going as high as INR 8,000, the audience sees a range of exciting goodies and products from Rage, as a part of this giveaway.

The brand uses its social media presence for appreciation, referrals and feedback as well.

Rage Coffee's way of marketing has everything to do with spreading awareness and gently nudging the user towards the brand and generating the 'want'. To which Bharat adds, "Everything else after that is because of the superior product formulations - over 45% of customers come back to the brand within 40 days to make a repeat purchase."

Distribution Strategy

A number of new-age brands have been developing personalized d2c channels, in addition to the other fundamentals of distribution.

"We have a 50-50 mix of offline and online businesses. The online distribution and operations are entirely in-house. The offline market works differently; we have expanded the offline network to 35 distributors, 4 CFAs, and 7 super stockists, covering 2500+ offline touchpoints across India," Sethi informs Social Samosa.

These CFAs and distributors ensure that the key institutional and Horeca accounts keep getting the stocks

that are needed. They also support in managing stock in over 600 outlets in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata and Chandigarh.

Sethi shares that additionally, e-commerce and quick commerce channels have played an integral role in creating additional demand.

As of now, Rage Coffee is actively leveraging Virat's presence. In 2022, the brand plans to double down on its marketing and distribution efforts.

Article by Saloni Surti and Sneha Medda.