India has traditionally been a tea drinking nation. The association of youth culture and coffee drinking opened up exciting avenues for the café market that earlier used to have lower priced offerings from udupi (small restaurants) cafés. The organized café market—which was branded and professionally run in terms of its marketing efforts—in India, it was worth INR 93100 million and was growing at 25–30% annually. Sensorial experience was vital to a café brand. Café Coffee Day had a striking lead in terms of pioneering the cafes in India. With brands such as Barista Lavazza, Gloria Jean’s Coffees, and Au Bon Pain in the fray, the challenge for Café Coffee Day was to strengthen its strategic brand associations, taking several considerations into account.
In categories such as beverages, brands need to build themselves on both symbolic and hedonic appeals besides offering good attributes and benefits. With cafes being associated with the urban youngsters, the challenge for brands is to ensure strong brand associations as they are a logical outcome of attributes, benefits, symbolism, and hedonism. With competitive brands of cafes offering quality of coffee that would no longer be a differentiator, Cafe Coffee Day had to establish itself on brand associations that would nurture its associations and give it a sustainable edge over the competitors. Such an approach proposes a few challenging questions :
How should the brand differentiate itself from its competitors? What were the dominant associations of the brand, and how could it use these associations? How did loyal consumers of the brand perceive the brand? How could the brand develop unique associations and communicate these to its consumers?
The case study emphasizes the importance of brand associations in a dynamic environment that is affected by competitive brands and changing lifestyles of consumers.
The case study will help to enable students to appreciate how brand associations contribute to brand equity; appreciate the importance of brand associations in relation to the learning abilities of consumers; interpret the associations involving consensus maps; and learn how creating and nurturing brand associations provide a competitive edge to a brand over other brands.