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The Rise Of Value Consumer

India had transitioned to the next massive leap with mobile. When the mobile revolution happened, far more Indians had access to mobile phones than toilets in the country.

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WHEN I THINK OF RETAIL, the first thing that comes to mind is window shopping. This window shopping has now taken a digital avatar and become a virtual screen as shoppers browse through multiple windows peeking at a whole host of brands at the same time. 

In the post-Covid era, I feel that consumers have changed in two broad areas. These two areas are broadly applicable to the food and beverages industry but we will restrict to our experience with ARAKU Coffee. 

Consumer in the pandemic era

Consumer, today, is becoming an online customer. If you see the Indian customer, I would say this is the fourth wave for online customers. There have been three waves before. The first wave happened in the 90s when banks started to get into computerisation. India had a trust deficit with technology from the beginning and banks were the first to change that. It’s an irony that Microsoft and Google are run by Indians and that India got its name for IT but as a country, we had a healthy mistrust for anything digital. We are, by nature, a touch and feel population – a very tactile population. 

After computerisation invaded our banks, offices and finally homes, India had transitioned to the next massive leap with mobile. When the mobile revolution happened, far more Indians had access to mobile phones than toilets in the country. That is when we broke our fear of technology and a huge trust deficit was reduced. 

The third wave happened when ecommerce in the form of Amazon/ Flipkart came to India and lured Indian buyers into the well of consumerism as I call it, with huge discounts of up to 70 per cent on top quality brands. As that happened, the last frontier of fear collapsed.

ARAKU Coffee debuts in this situation. Our biggest challenge was that we did not want to sell it as a mass discounted produce which is available on Amazon. We wanted to sell it to consumers who valued quality, did not worry about discount, had a deeper insight & understanding of the product and wanted it for its value. That was going to be difficult for us as online consumers were price sensitive whereas our target group was the discerning value consumer. 

It was at this intersection that the pandemic came as a blessing for us as it made a sweeping demand on humankind. It urged that social distancing is good, contactless is excellent. In other words, this encouraged people to invest in understanding the value proposition and also buy it online. This helped us. Our online sales have been increasing month on month. If I were to look at pre-pandemic to now, we have had a tenfold increase in sales that continues to multiply. 

Trends during lockdown

Post-pandemic there is a rush to understand and learn more about healthy food, organic food, foods that boost immunity, among other things. As Wendell Berry wished, eating has become an agricultural act. 

Along with taste, not only nutrition but also hygiene, aesthetics, packaging and transparency have become crucial. Traceability, Trust, and Transparency — the 3Ts, as we call it, which ARAKU Coffee is numero uno for are being discussed at length before the card is swiped. 

Now, it is about conscious consumption, not only from an environment point of view but also from a hygiene, nutrition, and health angle. With the 3Ts becoming very critical, the consumer has graduated. In the wake of the pandemic, India has created a set of value consumers who we did not have in large numbers earlier. India is moving towards a fourth wave which is that of customers who value brand. And they are exactly the target group for ARAKU coffee. 

Consumer trends likely to emerge

The main trend that will emerge is that people are going to be very conscious of what they consume. The pandemic has revealed the harsh truth about healthcare, that food is the best medicine. Finally, we have started to focus on how to build immunity and learn about nutrients in the food we consume. The consumer is asking questions if the food has pesticide residue, or ingredients that are carcinogenic or banned. This plethora of questions and matters of labelling have come to the forefront. Processed foods are going through a CT scan and consumers want to know how every food is processed. From a health point of view, customers have too many questions to a point where even unbranded vegetables are subjected to scrutiny. 

We feel ARAKU Coffee will be in a position to ride this wave of consumer consciousness about health by expanding our portfolio to food. The LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) consumer category has emerged. Soon we will be expanding to vegetables and gourmet food and that will be the beginning of the metamorphosis of ARAKU brand from coffee into a bouquet of offerings from the House of ARAKU.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Manoj Kumar

Co-founder, ARAKU Coffee

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