NEW DELHI: Cafe Coffee Day, the coffee retail chain, has successfully used social media to reach consumers and reflect their concerns, a leading executive has said.

K Ramakrishnan, president of marketing at Cafe Coffee Day, told Pitch that the chain used social media in several ways. Firstly, it "keeps us on our toes," he said, adding that "people on social platforms are unsparing".

Social media was also a simple way to communicate with a lot of people at the same time whether about a new outlet or a new offering.

The third way, said Ramakrishnan, reflected the culture of the café itself, which served "as a non-intrusive hangout for people where they can have conversations". People were doing the same in the virtual world, he pointed out, and so the chain followed conversations to understand what the hot topics were "and how we can capture a bit of their fancy and imagination".

Cafe Coffee Day also used social media in co-creation, an example being the playlist of songs for cafés which were suggested by fans.

But Ramakrishnan said co-creation had gone much further than that, being integrated into the product development process: trend analysis came from social media, concepts were chosen on social media, prototypes created on the basis of which concepts were attracting most people.

"When we have physical products we invite these people from the online space," he explained. "Once they taste they give their feedback on social and they feel they have created the brand itself."

Café Coffee Day also claimed to be "the largest physical aggregator of youth in India" with many other brands wanting to tap into this aggregation. Ramakrishnan said that these were typically brands that added value to Café Coffee Day customers.

"It's a symbiotic and cooperative relationship," he observed. "Movie companies use our cafes to reach out to our audiences. We also have some star visits from people and in turn we can promote our products. So it helps both the parties."

Data sourced from Pitch; additional content by Warc staff