March 2016 | Priyanka Hosangadi

Cupful of creativity

With eyes and heart set on becoming the most admired company in the beverages business, Tata Global Beverages has introduced an array of innovative brews

The business of beverages is getting ever more complicated. While new variants and formats have evolved in this space over the years — an example being the prominence of health drinks — customising product offerings to suit changing tastes and palates is the big challenge confronting companies such as Tata Global Beverages (TGB).

Around 250 million servings of TGB’s products are consumed every day across the world

The company is well placed to meet this challenge thanks to its heritage of product innovation and development. In January 2015, Tetley, one of the company’s flagship tea brands, launched four ‘Super Green Teas’ in the UK. With added vitamins known for their proven health benefits, these were breakthrough products for the brand.

“The new range is performing well in the market and attracting new consumers,” says Adil Ahmad, global chief marketing officer, TGB. “It has also catapulted the Tetley franchise to the No 2 position in the green tea segment in the UK.” Invigorated by the success of its Super Green Teas, the company launched Tetley Super Fruits, an array of fruit and herbal products again fortified with vitamins.

Tea for everyone
The rising health consciousness of tea aficionados has had business implications for the company, explains Mr Ahmad. “Tea has benefited from its positive health associations, especially green teas and fruit-based and herbal teas. Being a significant player in the global beverages industry for natural beverages, TGB focuses on the overall well-being that our products provide.”

Super Green Teas and Super Fruits are the latest in the long list of novel products to roll out from the TGB stable. There are others: Tetley Signature Collection in Canada, Tata Tea Fusion and Acti Green in India, regional product offerings like Tata Tea Gold Mixture in Maharashtra and Tata Gluco Plus (an affordable non-carbonated energy drink) are among the offerings that have helped the company bolster its customer-centric credentials.

TGB recently entered the branded coffee segment in India with Tata Coffee Grand. The beverage, developed in association with its subsidiary Tata Coffee, is a blend of agglomerated and freeze-dried coffees. This first-of-its-kind product for the Indian market comes in a unique royal blue packaging and has been designed to suit the Indian palate.

The culture of innovation at TGB runs deep. From path-breaking teabag formats to ingenious ways to connect with consumers, the company’s innovations have helped it stand apart from the competition. Innovation is also the cornerstone of TGB’s vision to become the world’s most admired enterprise in natural beverages, which means tea, coffee and water, the mainstays of its business.

Getting the right mix
The company has had to recalibrate its efforts and strategy to find the way forward. “We have hugely enhanced our ambition levels for growth and have defined a clear strategy to support this,” says Mr Ahmad.

The global marketing team, which has the mandate to explore and develop business opportunities in different geographies, was set up to streamline TGB’s sales efforts. Innovation, once again, has been critical for success on this front. “We are looking at how we can make the process deliver bigger and faster innovation. Bigger means more global innovation and faster means faster to market.”

If the growing number of product launches is an indicator, it’s clear that TGB is in robust health.The company has had three significant launches in India this year — Tata Tea Gold mixture in Maharashtra, Tata Tea Fusion and Tata Coffee Grand — and this is more than what it has managed in the past five years.

Mr Ahmad and his team know where their priorities are. “We have defined our top markets and the brands that we want to focus on, as well as the roles of different brands in our portfolio,” he says. “We are providing ourselves with the tools and formats to make growth happen.”

In India, TGB is focusing on consolidating its position in Maharashtra, one of the largest tea markets in the country. Rural markets, always prominent on TGB’s radar, will be targeted through Gaon Chalo (head to the village), a rural distribution programme that enables the company to travel the last mile effectively.

Blending success
With so many brands in the marketplace, how do TGB’s finest offerings stand out from the competition? Brand positioning is the key, says Mr Ahmad. “The brand identity — with its values and personality — is the differentiator that sets the tone for advertising, packaging and pricing strategies.”

Customers know Tata Tea, India’s largest packaged tea brand, for the excellence of its quality and the value it provides. The brand is also distinguished by its support of societal causes, an example being Jaago Re (wake up), the successful social marketing platform aimed at India’s youth. Yet another example of brand strengthening is the Tetley relaunch. The brand’s logo has been changed as has its positioning. “Tetley is all about making a connection, it is about creating those magical moments everyday that make you smile,” says Mr Ahmad.

A potent mix of marketing and advertising has helped make a world of difference for the company. “In India, which is one of the largest tea markets in the world, Tata Tea has the highest market share, household penetration, top-of-mind awareness and the widest distribution,” says Mr Ahmad. “This shows that our advertising and marketing strategies are working well.” With a history to be proud of, a proven business model and demonstrated innovation capabilities, the future looks bright for TGB.

TGB at a glance

  • The company’s well-known brands include Tetley, Tata Tea, Eight O’Clock Coffee, Good Earth Tea and Himalayan Water.
  • It is India’s leading branded tea player and No 2 in the world.
  • Around 250 million servings of TGB’s products are consumed every day across the world.
  • Sixty two percent of the company’s sales revenue is generated in markets outside India.
  • TGB has a strong focus on sustainability, an ethical supply chain and growing its business the right way.