Can Paper Boat’s Sweetly Nostalgic Ads Sustain A Changing Market?

Posted by Harshal Kale in Business and Economy, Staff Picks
November 6, 2017

Every brand has a story. And when this story connects with its customers, then the brand embarks on an exciting journey and the game begins to change. Establishing itself in the market with Tzinga, Hector Beverages strengthened its stand in the market with the introduction of Paper Boat. The essence of Paper Boat’s brand communication, that of creating nostalgia around childhood memories with its local flavoured drinks, made it the talk of the town.

Founded in 2013, Paper Boat is the brainchild of Neeraj Kakkar, James Nuttall, Suhas Misra and Neeraj Biyani. The beverage product offers 13 variants, inspired by immensely popular traditional Indian drinks like aam panna, aamras, kokum, etc. It contributes to about 75% sales of Hector Beverages.

They recently launched a new product, Chikki, a traditional snack made of peanuts, sugar and jaggery, adding new dimensions to the taste of sweet old memories.

Paper Boat’s ingenious marketing campaigns have been successful in taking the consumers back to their innocent early years of life. Be it the story of “Rizwan“, “Hope – The Boat“, “When I Grow Up“, “Life is Still Beautiful” or a simple science exhibition campaign on Instagram, each of these celebrated memories we all wish to relive.

An integrated campaign for Paper Boat with a perfect combination of heart-warming lyrics penned by Gulzar and magical soundtrack of ‘Malgudi Days’ has been making noise on the digital and traditional media for the last two years. Paper Boat has also been trying to create a strong presence on social media with innocence as the highlight of its stories.

Paper Boat’s philosophy of combining drinks and memories is manifested in all their brand campaigns consistently is commendable.

However, the real question is what challenges this space of memories will bring in for the brand ten years down the line. Paper Boat’s target audience is mainly 20 to 40-year-olds, that is, those born after 1977.

With changing cultural practices and a new cosmopolitan environment, millennials are experiencing a different childhood from those who grew up in the 1980s/1990s. The joy of running after kites, climbing trees to eat guavas, helping their mothers in making Diwali snacks – these won’t be much of relevance to this new generation. These traditional flavours definitely make me nostalgic, but can we assume the same for succeeding generations?

Preference of consumers towards healthy products is on a rise. Consumers are now highly involved in the process of buying food and drinks and prefer safe, fresh and healthy beverages. The demand for ‘green’ beverages seems to be a trend in the urban areas.

As more and more consumers aware of health and nutrition, giants like PepsiCo are now aiming to make their product portfolio ‘healthier’. Indian start-ups like RAW Pressery and Fresh Pressery have disrupted the market with cold-pressed juices, thus delivering fresh products without any added sugar and preservatives. While such offerings of freshness and nutritional gains make their way to the consumers, Paper Boat has carved itself a niche with its philosophy of ‘drinks and memories’.

As we look at the changing dynamics, it will be interesting to see if Paper Boat continues to build itself with the same message. What will be the next big introduction to its product line? Will it endorse itself as a healthy food and beverage brand or continue to win the market with innovative ideas and themes of innocence? It sure looks like a promising journey in the making.