A lot can happen over coffee or tea, as long as there's a stimulating conversation to go with it. The people at CupShup, an advertising start-up, have put this love of warm beverages and conversations to good use. Sakal Times talks to co-founder Sanil Jain about his 'why-didn't-anyone-think-of-it-before' idea and how they are exploring new markets every day.
How and when did you come up with this concept for your start-up?
A: During our MBA, I was having a cup of tea with my friend and batchmate, Sidharth Singh outside our college. Sidharth was working on an entrepreneurship project with a few friends and was struggling to come up with a unique idea/product to present for his project. That's when we found our Eureka Moment.
The idea dawned to Sidharth, "What if we brand these plain paper cups and convert the tea breaks into discussion joints for brands." We had a chat about movies and politics for about 15 mins. It came to our mind that we just spent 15 minutes of our quality time which was relaxed, clutter-free and the environment was fun-filled. This was a perfect place/medium where a brand would want to promote itself.
What kind of research did you do to find out the success rate of advertising on cups, and what did you find about consumer behaviour pertaining to your product?
A: People talk, discuss, debate, question and analyse things over a cup of chai. It's hard not to observe our chai cups -- because chai is an emotion that we all love and bond over.
Many new-age brands and start-ups use our services to acquire new users and drive App downloads and Transactions as well.
Since a tea break allows a brand exposure time of 5-7 minutes, we use call-to-action methods like QR codes, Missed Call to SMS and so on for a lead generation and App downloads.
What kind of advertisements work best on cups?
A: We have worked with brands across various industries. Be it FMCG, BFSI, Entertainment; we have worked with them all. Most of the established brands use our medium as part of their 360-degree campaigns focused on grabbing eyeballs and building a brand/product awareness.
A few months back, we concluded an interesting campaign in collaboration with Hotstar for their web-series The Office for which we distributed 25 lakh paper cups with nine humorously designed creatives, each with a witty designation aimed to drive humour and conversations inside offices.
The campaign resulted in floodgates of memes which people made and shared. With this campaign, we not only reached and made impressions offline but also gained mindshare of office goers online and made them aware of the new show.
What kind of arrangement do you have with canteens and other places that serve in cups?
A: We charge our clients on per unit basis for the end-to-end services, right from doing the creatives, cups manufacturing, campaign planning, execution and reports.
Our Inventory Partners (corporates/colleges/airlines/tea vendors) get these branded cups for free from us, thus making it a win-win-win proposition for all the parties involved.
Are the cups eco-friendly? What material are the cups made of?
A: Our unique concept is not only saving on significant cost for the tea vendor but is also doing away with the cheap not-so-healthy plastic cups by providing a comfortable-to-hold, recyclable designer teacup to the customer. We only use water-based ink and bio-degradable recyclable paper.
Also, we have partnered with two of the largest paper manufacturers in India to ensure that we get only high-quality food-grade cups which our customers prefer, and this has helped us gain access to many new offices.
What about the recycling of the cups?
A: Fortunately, most corporates where our cups go, have tie-ups with recycling facilities. That makes paper cups a renewable way of advertising. However, that isn't enough.
The stats suggest that only 1 per cent of paper cups get recycled in India. The remaining amount is a challenge needed to be solved.
Thankfully, these days, several companies and start-ups are taking significant steps towards tackling this environmental challenge. We hope that going forward; there'll be a major spike in the number of recycling provisions and tie-ups with such facilities in India.
What are your future plans?
A: We are scaling our network for CupShup and activation services while building new and interesting partnerships; we are ramping our creative services portfolio aggressively.
We aim to build a network reach of 50 million working professionals, which we will enable brands to access, through our media vehicles of Cup Branding, Activation and Digital Marketing.