D2C coffee brands have leveraged Instagram to create an ecosystem that caters to all aspects of a coffee lover. We examine how product innovations, accessories and brand connections play a role in this ecosystem.
India as a country has come a long way in recent years. Traditionally, a tea-loving country has opened its taste buds to coffee and has grown into a nation that consumes around 60 kg bags of coffee per year. (FISCAL YEAR 2022)
With this booming market, a number of D2C coffee brands are going beyond a traditional cup of coffee, catering to the changing tastes of the public. The brands focused on presenting the public with premium coffee, as well as a coffee experience at home.
Many of these new product variations, marketing and distribution shifts have happened on social media.
Over the past two 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 Cafe, and more.
Coffee and social networks
With many D2C coffee brands being digital first, social media has played an important role in achieving their TG.
An emerging trend that many of these brands are constantly following is giving the public a daily dose of varied recipes. Lockdown was a time when cooking content took off, and since then it’s become an even bigger part of brands’ content calendar. Coffee brands have experimented with Instagrammable recipes.
Along with sharing recipes, many brands have also tried collaborating with food content creators, which helps them open up their brand to a new audience.
Along with this, many of these brands use Instagram as a platform to host giveaways. This ensures that there is a flow of conversation between the brand and the audience.
Trending memes and pop culture references also emerged as a bucket of consistent content. Sharing relatable and funny memes is another way these D2C brands try to connect with their audience and generate a loyal following.
The days when coffee was just a drink to be consumed are over. Today, a good part of the population prefers coffee as their beverage of choice and has gone from simply buying the instant coffee present on the market to understanding the origin of the beans, the different types of roasts, infusions and others.
D2C coffee brands offer a variety of flavors, including some unique ones like Butterscotch, Irish Coffee and Strawberry Cheesecake, to introduce Indian audiences to cold brews and global brews like Vietnamese coffee.
Variations and innovations become an integral part of their Instagram presence. The content is focused on driving the distribution of these products.
Being an industry that traditionally started out as some sort of luxury drink continues to have a slight lingering hint, but in the form of accessories. Many D2C brands, to elevate the consumer experience and push the idea of ‘aesthetic’ have launched their own line of coffee accessories which are widely featured on their social media.
From drip bags, frothers and French press to custom made ‘dawra-cups’ to premium travel mugs, brands have curated an entirely different section for the public; again pushing the idea of a home coffee experience. Almost anything a consumer would order in a cafe can now be enjoyed 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 take coffee culture to the next level. Besides having an online presence, brands like ‘Blue Tokai’ and ‘Third Wave Coffee’ & ‘Subko Coffee’ also have an extensive offline presence.
Third Wave Coffee has recently expanded to Mumbai – a journey that also reflects its social media. Subko Coffee, based in the Bandra area of Mumbai, has also been extremely active on Instagram for its launch. The cafe kicked off the launch with an influencer outreach program and has since reportedly seen long requests for their croissants on weekends.
Some have ventured out and given audiences a much closer and closer experience of their beers with the “Coffee on Wheels” type of food truck. Continental Coffee shares consistent updates on the location of its food truck.
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In addition to having a digital presence, D2C coffee brands have collaborated with other brands to drive distribution and awareness among a wider audience. These brand integrations have been separated into two main areas; the food sector and restaurant combinations.
Rage Coffee recently collaborated with Nirula and created an exclusive ‘Sliky Brew’ ice cream flavor. Likewise, Sleepy Owl has teamed up with Jimmys Cocktails to offer the public a boozy drink with ‘Espresso Martini’; the brand also launched a chocolate covered coffee flavored ice cream bar in association with the healthy ice cream brand – NOTO. Dope coffee organized a “Choco Coffee Cone Kunafa” by partnering with Kunafa World.
On the other hand, Subko Coffee often collaborates with restaurants and bars to reach its audience. In a recent tie-up, the brand tapped into book lovers’ admiration for coffee as a favorite drink and collaborated with Kitab Khana Books to launch a mini coffee stall in the latter’s store that will serve Specialty Coffee x Craft Bakes, sandwiches and Suite.
In a similar vein, Dope Coffee has managed to land a spot at Tom & Nori’s restaurant as a coffee bar for the public.
D2C brands in general have seen a huge increase over the past few years and when it comes to coffee, the increase has been tangible, if not greater. For many of these brands, Instagram has become the one-stop-shop for all their digital business, and as they run their own ecosystem within the app, this also helps drive customers and sales.
With coffee culture at its peak and a good chunk of the Indian public slowly but steadily giving coffee the chance it deserves, will D2C brands become the norm in the years to come?