It’s time for Café Coffee Day & Barista – urban India’s best loved hangout joints to step aside. Starbucks will soon be brewing a fight to capture India’s buzzing coffee market that’s grown at alarming proportions in the last ten years. It was a decade that saw the grubby Udupi restaurant serving the much loved ‘kaapi’ fall out of flavor with India’s mobile savvy gen X and legitimized paying an unheard of hundred bucks for the frothy drink that came along with snazzy seating, smart menus and shining cutlery. Coffee and conversation became the mantra & brands increasingly latched on to the fast emerging ‘hangout’ culture that’s now become all too pervasive through the CCD generation.
Starbucks which is making an entry in collaboration with Tata Coffee is not the first one though to make a bid for India. Costa Coffee & The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are still struggling to make their presence felt amid local goliaths, and cracking the market is going to be tough given the first mover advantage the local brands have. The price sensitive nature of the Indian market will also be a challenge say experts.
Starbucks though is positioning itself as an upscale brand, launching initially through the Tata-run chain of luxury 5 star hotels. And going by India’s fast growing appetite for extravagance that could perhaps work well for them.
If the first phase of the country’s growth was fuelled by mass brands making a beeline for the middle classes’ attention, albeit with a touch of quality, the next chapter could well be about big spending and unrestrained decadence. Luxury brands are sprouting all over, changing definitions of what ‘normal’ is and Starbucks is just one among the many international names targeting India’s new found confidence with money. If The Four Seasons opened a couple of years ago, the Shangri-la is on its way and if BMW & Porsche showrooms dot tony neighborhoods of Mumbai & Delhi, the Ferrari is set to steal their thunder this year.
Barista itself took its brand to the next level recently with its premium offering, Barista Crème. And there are even plans to introduce wine and beer menus at some of their lounges.
Now those are surely comforting precedents for Starbucks as it gears up give Indians a whiff of their exotic brews!