D2C coffee brands have been leveraging Instagram to create an ecosystem that caters to every aspect of being a coffee lover. We take a look at how product innovations, accessories, and brand tie-ups play a part in this ecosystem.
India as a country has evolved quite a bit in the past few years. Traditionally a tea-loving country has opened its taste buds to coffee and become a nation that consumes around 60 kgs of coffee bags in a year. (FY 2022)
With this burgeoning market, a number of D2C coffee brands are going beyond a traditional cup of coffee, catering to the audience’s evolving taste. Brands have been focussing on introducing the audience to a premium cafe, as well as a cafe-at-home experience.
A lot of these new product variations, marketing, and distribution evolutions have been happening on social media.
In the last couple of years, we have seen an increase in D2C coffee brands, including names such as Blue Tokai, Sleepy Owl, Rage Coffee, Impulse, Country Bean, Slay Coffee, Continental Coffee, Subko Coffee, VS Mani & co, Dope Coffee, and more.
Coffee & Social Media
With many D2C coffee brands being digital-first, social media has played an important role in reaching their TG.
An emerging trend that many of these brands consistently follow is giving the audience a daily dose of varying recipes. Lockdown was a time when cooking content took off, and since then has become an even bigger part of brands’ content calendar. Coffee brands have been experimenting with Instagramable recipes.
Along with sharing recipes, many brands have also tried collaborating with food-content creators which helps in opening their brand to a newer set of audience.
Along with this, many of these brands use Instagram as a platform to hold giveaways. This ensures there’s a flow of conversation between the brand and the audience.
Trending memes and pop culture references have also emerged as a consistent content bucket. Sharing relatable and funny memes is another way these D2C brands try to connect with their audience and generate a loyal following.
Gone are the days when coffee was just a drink to consume. Today, a good chunk of the population prefers coffee as their beverage of choice and has transitioned from just buying the instant coffee present in the market to understanding the beans’ origin, the different kinds of roasts, brews, and whatnots.
D2C coffee brands have been offering a variety of flavours including some unique ones like butterscotch, Irish coffee, and strawberry cheesecake to introducing the Indian audience to cold brews and global brews like Vietnamese coffee.
The variations and innovations become a consistent part of their Instagram presence. The content is focussed on driving the distribution of these products.
With being an industry that traditionally started off as a luxury drink of sorts continues to have a slight lingering hint to it but in the form of accessories. Many D2C brands, to elevate the consumer experience and push the idea of ‘aesthetic’ have started their own line of coffee accessories that find ample presence on their social media.
Starting from drip bags, frothers, and french press to custom-made ‘dawra-tumblers’ to premium quality travel mugs, brands have curated an entirely different section for the audience; again pushing the idea of an at-home cafe experience. Almost anything that a consumer would order at a cafe, can now be consumed at home or even on the go with products like cold brew cans and bottled lattes.
Increase In Cafes
On the other hand, some of these brands are taking cafe culture a notch higher. Apart from having an online presence, brands like ‘Blue Tokai’ and ‘Third Wave Coffee’ & ‘Subko Coffee’ have an extensive offline presence as well.
Third Wave Coffee recently expanded on an extensive level in Mumbai – a journey reflecting on their social media as well. Subko Coffee, based in Mumbai’s Bandra area too has been extremely active on Instagram for their launch. The cafe kicked off the launch with an influencer outreach programme and reportedly since has seen long ques for their croissants on the weekends.
Some have ventured out and given the audience a much closer and tighter experience into their brews with the food-truck type ‘Coffee on Wheels’. Continental Coffee shares consistent updates on the location of their food truck.
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Apart from having a digital presence, D2C coffee brands have been collaborating with other brands to drive distribution and awareness amidst a wider audience. These brand integrations have been segregated into mainly two areas; the food sector and restaurant tie-ups.
Rage Coffee has recently collaborated with Nirula and come up with an exclusive ice-cream flavour ‘Sliky Brew’. Similarly, Sleepy Owl joined hands with Jimmys Cocktails to give the audience a boozy-brew with ‘Espresso Martini’; the brand also released a chocolate coated coffee flavoured ice cream bar in association with the healthy ice brand – NOTO. Dope coffee curated a ‘Choco Coffee Cone Kunafa’ by teaming up with Kunafa World.
On the flip side, Subko Coffee often collaborates with restaurants and bars to reach its audience base. In a recent tie-up, the brand leveraged the book-lovers admiration for coffee as a preferred drink and collaborated with Kitab Khana Books to launch a mini coffee stall at the latter’s outlet that’ll serve Specialty Coffee x Craft Bakes, sandwiches, and more.
Following in similar lines, Dope Coffee managed to bag a spot at Tom & Nori’s restaurant as the coffee bar for the audience.
D2C brands in general have seen quite a rise in the past few years and when it comes to coffee, the rise has been tangible if not higher. For many of these brands, Instagram has become the one-stop place for all their digital activities and as they curate their own ecosystem within the app, it also helps in generating customers & sales.
With cafe culture at its peak and a good chunk of the Indian audience slowly but steadily giving coffee the chance it deserves, will D2C brands become the norm in the coming years?