Georgia Tea & Coffee - The Perfect Brew
Georgia – the premium range of hot and cold tea and coffee - has carved a niche for itself. Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) is the sole supplier of these beverages. Abhishek Gupta, VP, Key Accounts and Commercial Beverages and Prathamesh Mehendale, National Head, Commercial Beverages, talk about the road that lies ahead.
Abhishek Gupta & Prathamesh Mehendale
How is Georgia unique and what distinguishes its offerings?
While we offer an entire range of premium hot & cold beverages - freshly brewed coffee, hot premix flavoured tea, coffee, iced tea and cold coffee - we are exclusively in the Institutional space. Our distribution model is that of offering Georgia through company-owned vending machines only. These vending machines are mostly installed at corporate sites, restaurants, institutions and entertainment channels. That is why you will find Georgia vending machines only in large corporate set-ups, colleges, hospitals, cinema theatres, malls and auditoriums. In other words, we do not sell through cafes, exclusive outlets or even as a premix, off the shelf.
There are different kinds of Georgia machines at institutional sale points. How are these machines different from each other?
We have essentially two kinds of Georgia vending machines: one that dispenses hot tea & coffee and the other that dispenses cold coffee & iced tea. The hot vending machines can again be of two types – one for premix and the other for bean-to-cup freshly brewed coffee.
What kind of post installation service does HCCB provide for each of these machines?
HCCB provides complete end-to-end solution including maintenance support for Georgia vending machines. We not only offer and install these machines at the client sites on a rental basis, but also provide support for any breakdowns including periodic preventive maintenance. We take responsibility for regular supply of consumables such as coffee beans, dairy whitener, tea-coffee premix etc in 1 KG packets which are tailor made for Georgia machines.
Premix Coffee & Tea Dispensing Solutione
Is there a need to explore retail, off-the-shelf channels at all? What would be the challenges for such an option?
As of now, we are clearly focussed on our vending model of sales and distribution. We however, keep an eye on new opportunities as they emerge. Consumers love our products for the unique flavour and taste and convenience of the dispensing format.
Georgia is known for its unique coffee and tea flavour. What ensures the consistency and quality of Georgia?
We have robust mechanisms to ensure that we define, develop and source only approved quality coffee beans or tea, and that too from select suppliers. For instance, we offer only a specific blend of arabica-robusta coffee, and even the process of roasting and grinding of these beans are defined. To be sure, our company has complete control over the entire value chain of coffee and tea business including processing, packaging and distribution.
There are also well laid out standard recipes for our premix ingredients. Besides, our machines are well calibrated and are constantly tuned with periodic preventive maintenance activity so that the consistency of the offering is not compromised. So, we would say that our secret sauce is the flavour, the processes and our passion to serve our customers.
What is the distribution spread of Georgia in India?
The Georgia brand is present in almost all states of the country except 7 sister states of North East, and Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. We are available in all major tier 1 and tier 2 cities of India at Institutional sale points.
What would be the strength of the team that helps Georgia conducts its business?
We are a team of more than 200 direct and indirect associates, serving through 70 distributors, spread across the country.
In the current scenario of COVID-19, people are not likely to congregate at such places where Georgia machines are generally installed. Any action plan to tweak our current strategies to withstand the situation?
Understandably, the pandemic has affected our business channels the most. Whether it is offices and corporates, theatres, malls, travel & transport hubs, airports, colleges, show rooms and other institutions, most of the places are shut. The entire team is therefore working on options and creative solutions to tide over the business crisis. Also, gradually the economy is opening up and that is a good sign. The virus has certainly challenged us to find new ways to win and new ways to serve.
Iced Tea & Cold Coffee Dispensing Solution
How were you servicing the supply and technical support requirements of customers during the lockdown?
There weren’t too many channels operating in the first place, but we still remained available to our customers who needed us. Since there were restrictions of physical movement, we mostly used digital technology to render services. WhatsApp video calls with our customers came in handy. For our field staff that had an e-pass, we also attended a few situations in person, for either breakdowns or installation of new vending machines. We can say this with a fair amount of pride and confidence that we never turned down any request or call for any service from our customers.
What opportunity do you see in the market for Georgia?
India is largely a freshly brewed tea and coffee market. These beverages have always been an integral part of our culture and tradition. Our vending machines providing a range of hot and cold beverages, at the press of a button, without having to worry about maintenance or availability of raw materials. This surely provides us a unique competitive advantage. We also keep developing new flavours to continue to cater to changing consumer taste requirements. We are happy to say that the Georgia brand is preferred by institutions for captive tea and coffee consumptions. In general, there are more people that are getting into the work and institutional set-ups, which is good news for the category. Frankly, this category is still in its infancy. The potential is enormous.