Paper Boat Drinks- An Underdog
The rise of paper boat as an underdog in a stagnated market of drinks....
AN UNDERDOG By Shruti Balabhadra DM16144
Climbing the trees and plucking raw mangos, having Pani Puri with friends and enjoying a glass of fresh mango juices. These are some of our childhood memories which we always cherish and finally came a brand, “Paper Boats” which hoped to refresh these memories with their range of drinks and beverages. Back in 2012 when Neeraj Kakkar, Co-founder and CEO of Hector Beverages having a business tussle with three of his business partners over a bottle of homemade aam panna he come up with the inspiration of creating Paper Boat drinks. Two years earlier he had already launched his beverage company, Hector Beverages with an energy drink Tzinga which was currently doing moderate business. At that point of time the co-founders of Hector were in a dilemma and in search of different types of drinks to and their category. Initially they had planned to launch a vitamin infused water but on the advice of James Nuttall, their American partner, they planned to go in the region of traditional beverage segment. Technically the company had identified a blind spot. After extensive research the company realized that there was no offering of aam panna or and other similar drink in the beverage market. Hence the brand paper boat was launched in August 2013. The drinks were offered in ten variant flavours in sleek and designer bottles. The offering quickly became popular among the affluent segment. The brand offering Paper Boat had a lot of potential in the Indian market. The brand and the product had a strong sense of resonance with the Indian consumers. Once upon a time these drinks were available in every corner of India, however with the Indian women getting busier, the vendors disappearing from the picture and with multiple doubts arising about hygiene these beverages were dying. First came Frissia, a protein drink and then came Tzinga which was a brand of energy drink competing with the likes of Red Bull. Initially the drink did become popular with many IITans rooting for it but after some time its sales started sloping and coming up with a new brand of drinks was an obvious choice. Presently, Paper Boat has 10 offering such as aamras, aam panna, jal jeera, kokum, jamun kala khatta, imli ka amlana and golgappe ka pani with latest variants of sattu and rasam added as the new flavours. The company is presently targeting the premium and metropolitan segment with an age group target of 25 to 40 years. The company has a domestic as well as international ambition in terms of geographic coverage, with over 65 Indian cities (through the e portal) and over 6 other countries like UK and USA under its kitty. The company had ensured that the south-north factor does not affect the brand or the needs of the consumers by offering drinks across evolved from multiple regions. The company has a good distribution system in big cities like Delhi and Bangalore, also in other metros like Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune have also seen good sales even with a limited distribution system in these cities. The company is also selling on key POCs like airports, flights, food courts and movie multiplexes. Presently Paper Boat is selling almost 1.2 billion packs a month and has almost doubled its sales. The mother brand Hector Beverages expects to increase its revenue to about 100 crores all thanks to Paper Boat.
The brand has launched a set of advertisement campaigns in form of short stories. They have ensured that nothing is missed and brought the best of people to create these ads. The brand has been themed on the tagline “Drinks and Memories ” with the basic essence being “alive authenticity” where the ads take us back down the memory lane in a laid back and fun childhood away from the fast paced , urbanised reality of the present times. Competition The Indian juice market is valued at rupees 1,100 crores with an annual growth of 25 to 30 percent. The advantage of this industry is the simple model it requires with comparatively large outcomes. The juice market can be divided into organized and unorganized sector with the unorganized being in dominance with 75% market share. The organized sector constitutes just 25% share and involves players like juice shops and packaged juice products. However, when talking about the organised sector Dabur is the leader with 55% market share with brands like Real and Real Active. Global players like Pepsi and Coke are also investing in this market and have brands like Tropicana and Minute Maid. Also, big FMCG brands like ITC are also planning to launch juice beverages (they have already acquired B natural juices and planning an investment of rupees 1000 crores. This market has great future prospects due to multiple reasons like health awareness among the consumers, higher disposable incomes, westernization and increase in fruit imports. The juice category has especially attracted the middle class and upper middle class segment. The Paper Boat’s competitors are following the already trodden paths of juices, here is where Paper Boat creates a differentiation: the brand is offering unique flavours that have never been explored like aamras and aam panna. Also the product packing is extremely unique and gives it an edge over others. Also Paper boat as reviewed by a number of customer very natural and true to its origins, a far cry from what others brands have to offer with large amount of chemicals and artificial favours. The packets offered are convenient and enough to satisfy the customers. Also the nostalgia on which the company is promoting itself gives it an edge. The advertisements (without any celebrity endorsements) have been successful in creating a strong bond and connect with the customers. However, there are certain negative points to note as well. The cost of one pack of Paper Boat cost around rupees 30 which is very high compared to other juice brands, that is, the cost of a 250 ml packet is double that of a 200ml Coke bottle. Compared to its dominant competitors, their distribution system is weak and is still unsuccessful in reading the neighbourhood stores and kiranas. Also the company has not been able to penetrate the Tier I and Tier II markets. Also another issue they are facing is sourcing the raw material. The ingredients used are so unique and rare that the company is finding it difficult to obtain them.
Further, the Indian climate is also paying a deterrent with fears of affecting the natural products in terms of flavour and colour. It is to be noted that larger, dominant players usually do not consider niche segments and hence the biggest competitive threat to Paper Boat are the other start-ups.
The Underdog effect Everyone likes to hear stories of how people and brands in specific rose from their humble grounds, fought hardships, faced multiple struggles and how they succeed. People of today want to be inspired and influenced by “brand biography” and brand narratives. The reason underdog narrative is successful is that people see their own stories of struggle in them. As per a research paper “The Underdog Effect: The Marketing of Disadvantage and Determination through Brand Biography by NEERU PAHARIA ANAT KEINAN JILL AVERY JULIET B. SCHOR” the underdog effect increases “ brand loyalty, purchase intention and real choice”. The underdog narrative is formed through multiple ways as in the case of Paper Boat: o
The packing gave a uniqueness to the product, the design is unstructured and thus the product can be identified as simple (as a childhood), unstructured ( a breather from the monotony and strict urban life) and as a symbol of fruit(and thus in turn naturalness) Website: the brand’s website is extremely simple and portrayed in the form of a story. The website aims to create a chord with the public and does not show any technical or mechanical information( market share, sales etc.) which can deviate from its narrative Advertisements: the brand has a set of 4 advertisements which tell a story of childhood and how the products are entangled in the consumers’ memory.
Basically the underdog effect is structured in a two way format: The adversities and negative circumstances the brand faces in terms of low resources and negative responses from competitors The passion, will power and determination the company exhibited to reach its objective and goal. Based on the above factors the underdog disposition matrix was formed:
As per four studies conducted the underdog effect is influenced by the identity structure which says that:
The consumer can create an identity with the brand: Paper Boat reminds the consumers of their childhood and makes them tread the memory lane thus creating an identity The consumers who consider themselves underdogs and identify with that tag: people in the present world are always on the run with hectic and busy schedules, Paper Boat creates an impression that the consumers can take away a moment from their lives and refresh their lives. When the purchase intention is for themselves: childhood and the formative years are a personal experience; consumers want to remember how they used to spend their days, what fun activities they used to do as a kid and how their mothers used to give them a refreshing glass of aam panna after playing under the sun. Thus making it a personal purchase. In counties and cultures where an underdog story rings a chord with the national identity: specifically in individualistic cultures as compared to collective cultures: the brand talk about culture and Indian traditions in the form of the regional flavours it offers and how a kid in India lives his childhood which results in the nation identifying with the brand identity.
The fact is that slowly customers start connecting with such brands and finally become loyal to the brand and continue to stay so. However the issue to look upon is what happens if the company comes at the top and whether purchase intention, loyalty and actual choice and whether it decreases or increases. As per the same research paper the hypothesis that they came upon were:
Consumers will have a higher purchase intention for an underdog with a biography The brand preference and purchase intention will lead to creation of identity with the brand The more a consumer co-relates himself as an underdog the more he will identify with the brand.
As per the book, “The Underdog Edge: How Ordinary People Change the Minds of the Powerful and Live to Tell about It” by Amy Showalter following are the strategies that an underdog can play upon: Build your uniqueness and differentiation factor: as they say first impression is the last impression, the brand should create uniqueness in it methodologies to create a lasting impression on the consumers; the company should be quick in taking judgments but yet make sure that the judgments are calculated and calibrated. The brand should ensure to give a positive impression about itself: the Indian flavours it offers creates a unique factor. Also the decision by the brand to foray into speciality drinks in place of vitamin infused water was a judgement that was decisive and calibrated. Vivid: the company should be vivid in communicating their ideologies. Paper Boat made sure that it communicated its messages through deep and emotional advertisement which ring a chord with the consumers. Also even the bottle packing and website should connect with the consumers and exhibit an intense and strong feeling. Grit: the underdog should show grit and perseverance to achieve his goal. The brand should show an ideology that it can do any amount of hard work to reach its gaol. The brand show exhibit itself as dedicated to its objectives. Look in the top dog’s views: we should also look into the top dog’s world. The underdog should know what markets the top dog is concentrating on, what are its marketing strategies, what are its future plans: Paper Boat should identify the strategies and objectives of juice giants like Real and Tropicana which in turn will help it identify its scopes and segments. Build the pack: the brand should create such a package of product offering which satisfy the active and latent needs of the masses. The product offering should not be set up blindly but should have a logic and strategy behind it: Paper Boat is offering 11 variants presently and planning to launch 14 more in the near future. However, a question they need to ask themselves is what is the need of so many products? Will it clutter and clog the brand? As a brand, Paper Boat should concentrate on select varieties of its products and create strong and suitable marketing mechanisms for them. It is a issue that the company has a weak distribution system and low supplier availability, it should keep this in mind and accordingly package the offerings.
What can the underdog do for the top dog: as an underdog, a brand can bring uniqueness and innovativeness to the consumers and hence helps in changing the structure and nature of the market. A top dog has to thus according adapted to the changing environment. A top dog is normally
resistive to change and bringing diversity, but a new player forces it to avoid stagnation and taking customers for granted. Do not bite and be nice: the underdog should never forget that it is still a small player in the market and should not rub off any major player in the wrong sense because if a top dog wants he can negatively impact the brand and destroy it. The underdog should find its niche market and work upon creating itself there and then think of expanding in terms of a wider horizon. For example, a underdog should avoid comparative advertising and promos where you try to show why the competitors is less than you and how good you are over them, that is, direct attacking. While other brands (Real, Tropicana) exhibit itself as a healthy juice to curb weight and have a healthy lifestyle, Paper Boat is going in a different dimension of memory, Indian-ness and childhood.
Learning from Experience Learning is defined as the acquis ion of information and knowledge which once when acquired can be applied to future related behaviour. It should be noted that it is a continuous process. The brand can encourage learning by creating a novice product: here the product offering are something new and never seen before where tradition his twisted with a contemporary edge. The brand should ensure consistency, that is the message should continue to be relevant to the population and exhibit the objectives that the brand stands for. Integrated marketing tools: the company should use multiple tools like website, personal selling, and emotional advertisements to sell the brand. However the brand should not stick to the same modes of communication and keep evolving and changing, like here the brand uses memory however over a period of time they should use different methods like humour et al. Learning is influenced by three aspects: Familiarity, Motivation and Ambiguity Familiarity: Do consumers know about the brand from before? Unfamiliarity tends to weak and few beliefs on part of the customer. The consumer does not have solid hypothesis and is a novice. In such a case brand can create a unique brand image and exploit the situation and set the rules. Ambiguity: What can the experience teach? When the experience is clear and defined the consumer learns faster and cannot be influenced easily Motivation: How motivated are consumers? High motivated consumers are more active in generating hypothesis, information search and encoding the information
Underdogs must that the customers learn and gain from experience. Here in the case of Paper Boat, the brand is targeting a motivated target market (motivation in terms of an opportunity to connect with their childhood and trying out their favourite homely drinks on the go). The consumers have had previous experience with other drink companies which offer aerated or drinks with chemicals and artificial flavouring, also the other aspect of experience comes with the Indian population having had the traditional drinks in their childhood. Here the experience in both the facet is unambiguous thus making the consumers more prone to trials. The consumers here have a natural curiosity to try and taste the product after so many years after their childhood when they have become adults. Do everything and anything: Paper Boat has to break the habituated consumption by offering something different and unique which the customers are receptive to. The brand needs to develop a new distribution system such as personal selling points like offices, kitty parties and festive gatherings. Also the brand can leverage its costs and limited resources by offering side by side comparison in displays in the retail stores. Agenda disruption: low familiarity and novice consumer can also be targeted by offering him something new and unique he has never seen before like offering north Indian a south based drink like kokum or offering south Indians drinks like aam panna. The brand should also use “Search encouraging appeal” where we can make the consumers taste the product with its natural counterpart (like Paper Boat Aam panna and natural aam panna) and make them realize how authentic the product is. Encourage trial: the company should aim at controlling exposure and encoding of information. This can be done by offering trials at Tier I and II cities where they offer the sample at super markets and hence create brand and product awareness.
Creating Brand Loyalty The brand value of a company or product is aptly and correctly determined by the brand loyalty the company garners. It is exhibited when in the presence of competitors, thus consumers comes again and again to purchase the same product. If an underdog wants to create the brand loyalty that everyone aspires it should do the following: 1. Understand what customers want and give it to them: everyone loves their childhood and its memories but no one gets a chance to relieve them. Paper Boat understood the need of taking a break and experience tastes that a consumers misses in the present fast paced world and which remind him of his childhood. 2. Strong Impression: we should look at our product from the consumers’ viewpoint. The image should create a lasting impression on them.
When he sees the bottle of aam panna or jal jeera, he should start imaging himself as a kid having a glass of the refreshing drinks. 3. Brand’s voice: the company should use a unique method of telling the consumers about itself. It should be noted that Paper Boat did not use celebrity endorsements like its competitors to publicise its brand. It used stories and childhood to communicate what the brand and product is all about. 4. Word of Mouth: it is thumb rule that if you have a product offering, people will talk about it and express their opinion which in turn will influence other potential customers. The company (Paper Boat in this case) should get involved with the consumers and ask for their feedbacks and reviews. Personal recommendations are the most judgemental and give the true consumer inferences. 5. Different offerings that your competitors have not yet offered: Paper Boat saw at the blind spot for traditional drinks existing in the industry and took advantage of the situation. Often, a brand doesn’t need radical and path breaking ideas, even a simple need when identified can have massive impact. 6. Working with people who share the company’s mission and vision 7. Good customer service: a great customer service will automatically improve customer loyalty: Paper Boat should ensure that it is visible and available is all possible locations, a consumer should not be unsatisfied on finding the product unavailable. Also when a customer gives appositive or critical view about the product in blogs, emails, calls, etc., the company should acknowledge them and take them and respond to them actively to enhance not just the product but also the customer company relationship.
Marketing Underdog though small in terms of resources, brand recall and offering can stand up against the big players in the market if they have clear and compelling marketing strategy and an orderly and uniform brand positioning. Vistage speaker, Michael Meyers says that as an underdog a company should concentrate on its marketing strategy on the following things:
Identify and define the market: Paper Boat is targeting a niche and premium segment of urban people who are living a busy and hectic like by still are connected to their roots and Indian traditions and culture.
Differentiation: we should not target the same customer base as that of our giant competitors with the limited resources and distribution channel we have. As a brand we need to ask these questions to ourselves. o
Where can I be different?
How can I be different?
How can I communicate this differentiation?
Paper Boat is different and unique in the way that it is offering Indian refreshment drinks which were forgotten by the masses but still loved by all. They were not only catering to the westernised sensibilities of Indians to have a health drink on the go but also to their Indian aspect by offering traditional drinks in a new avatar can creating a link with the consumers’ memories.
Dominate the category: Presently Paper Boat is the only brand to offer such traditional and Indian drinks to the consumers hence playing a dominant role in the field. This is an advantage to the brand in the sense that now consumers will relate traditional drinks with the brand and no matter what new competitor comes up in that segment; Paper Boat will be the set bar line criteria to judge them.
Product: concentrate on maintaining the standard of existing products even if means offering less varieties against what the company intends to do ( they want to launch 14 more varieties). The company should continue with the Indian
and memory aspect of the product offering. However, the brand can also offer larger sized packages for social and family consumption. Price: the product is very expensive compared to its competitors: Rupees 30 for a 250 ml pack. The company should work on reducing the prices which will help it in flourishing in Tier I and II cities as well. This price reduction can be achieved by exploring local resources and products which will not only be cheaper but also ensure freshness. Promotion: The promotional strategy being used by the company presently is apt and helps in enhancing the hedonic aspect as compared to the utilitarian aspect thus ensuring greater mind share and higher recall value. Place: The Company has to improve its distribution not just in Tier I and II but also in metros besides Delhi and Bangalore. This can be achieved by collaborating with local distributors. Also the company has opened plants all across India with a start from Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. The company should open smaller larger number of plants in different regions which will not only help them in sourcing local ingredients but also help in going into untapped regions.
STP: Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning Segmentation: Paper Boat has implemented Psychological segmentation where it has identified the market in terms of the values and beliefs (memories, childhood connect). The brand has segmented the population based on people who are asking for a break from their monotonous lifestyle and missing their childhood. A fact to note is that the brand is also segmenting the market on Geography where it is concentrating only on the urban population. However, it should also work on the Tier I and Tier II population wher there is a heavy population of central and state government employees and offer them the product as well. Targeting: Presently the brand is using concentrated targeting where it is targeting the consumer on the basis of the childhood memories that these products bring back. However, if the brand wants to penetrate the rural and semi urban areas as well they should use differentiated targeting for this population because they are more connected to their roots and thus can use hygiene and availability of offering form different parts of India which normally they had no access to. Positioning: Positioning is a perception that the consumer assumes for a product against its competitors. The brand has been successful in this feat by exhibiting itself as company offering Indian drinks while its competitors are still restricted to the western sensibilities (black current, cranberry juice) which is all about bringing a
smile on the consumer’s face when he remembers himself as a kid as soon as he has the first sip of the beverage.
Current scenario Presently the company is planning to expand its reach in South India with the opening of a new plan in south India. Also they are exporting their products in countries with high Indian population like Malaysia, USA, and UK et al. The company is even planning to export raw materials from other countries to create new flavours. This is not such a wise decision looking at the cost and expenses the company will endure and also we should not forget that the brand is still a new kid in the market. The company is collaborating with universities and farmers to procure top notch produce. The company believes in innovation and keeps investing in Research and Development to release new variants of the beverages.
Conclusion Paper Boat sells nostalgia where they depend on the emotions of the consumer. It is a product which offers heritage with a contemporary twist. As a brand Paper Boat has aptly situated itself with a unique and different aspect. However, the company has still not realized its true potential. As a brand it has capabilities to create a new market segment altogether but the low distribution is hampering its rise. Although it is a good strategy to reach out to the Indian Customers abroad who are the moat nostalgic about Indian roots ant their childhood they had spent in their mother land, but the brand should also create awareness on a national level. Also as a company it should not over crowd its offering by giving too many varieties but in fact start from a limited number and work on solidifying their position in the market and in the hearts of the consumer. The company should work on having multiple plants although small n multiple locations to ensure maximum geographical reach.
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