In this series, The Drum gets brands to share their Indian Premier League game plan and the marketing innovations they have lined up to make the most of the mega-event, in a year marked with many challenges.
The 13th edition of the mega sporting bonanza IPL (Indian Premier League) kicked off a few weeks back. In a departure this year because of the Covid-19, the matches are being played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), instead of home-market India. Even as many well-known brands continue their association with IPL, this year many new ones have also come on-board. This week, we get you the playbook of a regional beverage brand which hopes to piggy-back on the increased demand for its category thanks to the ‘at-home’ consumer. S. Shriram, vice president of Levista Coffee shares the plans of the licensed coffee partner brand for one of the leading IPL teams - Chennai Super Kings (CSK) - and the brand’s regional go-to-market strategy as well as its national ambitions. Levista Coffee is a part of the 60-year old South India-based SLN Coffee Company.
The IPL association
In a unique association - distinct from many of the established telecom, automobile, and the hi-decibel technology brands - Levista Coffee a relatively smaller beverage brand decided to join the IPL action. It came on-board as the licensed coffee partner for one of the leading IPL teams Chennai Super Kings (CSK) for 2020.
New rules of engagement
- For starters, the challenger coffee brand decided to turn the disadvantage of the pandemic-led slowdown by unlocking the potential of a better engaged and at-home consumer. Says S. Shriram, vice president, Levista Coffee, “with more consumers placed at their homes, and many on WFH mode, consumption of hot beverages has been on the rise across India despite the summer months.”
- While most other regional brands went easy on their marketing, Levista chose to go against the tide and continued to remain connected with its consumer base even while strengthening its retail outreach - by adding over 25% new touchpoints. Shriram is happy with the outcome –“sales have grown a healthy two-digits compared to last year”.
Combining coffee and fandom together
To make the most of its IPL association, Levista launched a slew of marketing initiatives.
- The brand launched a CSK special commemorative pack which included the Instant Coffee pack and a specially created coffee mug featuring the renowned cricketer and CSK captain MS Dhoni and other players.
- The brand also launched specially branded coffee cans with the team-players’ imagery.
A robust OOH Plan
The brand painted the state of Tamil Nadu - its home market with strategically located billboards, as well as over 2,000 retail storefronts carrying the co-branding.
Sampling is big
- The brand sampled 1.50 lakh units of its small coffee sachets (single-serve) across Chennai (the capital city of Tamil Nadu, a state in India) on 20th September 2020 along with copies of a local newspaper brand.
- In addition, it has been operating a specially branded van with CSK-Levista co-branding, all across Chennai, offering the sample coffee to potential consumers.
- To announce its IPL association, the brand released its campaign ‘Divided By Taste, United By Levista’ comprising three adverts.
- The films, in a humorous manner, seek to bring alive the connection between entertainment, friends and family and coffee together.
Keeping the media plan regional and targeted
- Unlike many of the bigger national brands, Levista is not playing the adverts on expensive national channels. In keeping with its strong regional aspirations, the brand has opted to go for sharp targeting via the regional GECs and news channels.
- In addition, the films are being played on digital platforms such as YouTube, Facebook for a wider reach.
Why IPL makes sense for a regional brand
Elaborating on why a marquee property like IPL makes sense and fits well with the brand’s expansion plans, Shriram says, “our association with CSK is a strategic move and not a short-term tactical one. This association will help the brand maintain the momentum for the crucial Q3 (third quarter).” Incidentally, it is also the peak season (being the winter months) for the hot beverage category.
The journey from a regional player to national player
The brand is in no hurry to conquer the national or international market, yet, since it believes it has much to accomplish in the regional markets of Southern India, the traditional coffee consuming market. Says Shriram, “While we aspire to be a national player in 12-18 months from now, the plan is to go for steady and gradual progress rather than spreading ourselves too thin.” We would rather prefer a significant market share in a given geography, than a lean share pan-India, is how the brand plans to expand its footprint going forward.